Editor’s Desk: Don’t forget the farm bill

Illustration by Delphine Lee.

By Theodore Ross

Without some sort of bipartisan deal by Friday, the federal government will enter a partial shutdown. These bouts of brinkmanship are a new kind of normal in this country, a state of affairs that you, FERN’s informed readers, might be growing weary of, and which Politico, in alliterative headline mode, has dubbed, “The Fourth Shutdown Showdown.”

A government shutdown has consequences for the issues that we care about at FERN, because it restricts USDA and the FDA to “essential services.” It also means no further progress can be made to pass the farm bill, because, according to House Speaker Mike Johnson, “We can’t get farm bill done until we get approps done,” according to Politico. (Approps = appropriations.)

This impasse over the farm bill has outlasted our special series on the subject, “The Farm Bill Fight,” which ran in January and February in partnership with Mother Jones, and ended last week

I encourage you to read the series, in which Tom Philpott assesses some of the stakes of the farm bill, Claire Kelloway looks at its origins, Lee Drutman and Dustin Wahl analyze the modern-day politics that are driving it, and FERN staffers Teresa Cotsirilos and Bridget Huber make the case for the things a new omnibus law can and should do.

I’m proud of the work we’ve done in collaboration with Mother Jones, and my hope is that it contributes to a sense of urgency in the government to get this thing done. 
Timely, rigorous, smart journalism can create a public conversation around an important issue. It really can help bring about change. If you agree with that, and would like to help us do more to call attention to what is happening politically to our food and agriculture systems, please consider making a donation. I promise we’ll put it to good use.