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February 19, 2014 / Rebekah Seder, Editor

Why the farm bill is at odds with public health

– Here’s a good question about our country’s (incredibly complex) agricultural policies (WaPo, 2/19):

Read the farm bill, and a big problem jumps right out at you: Taxpayers heavily subsidize corn and soy, two crops that facilitate the meat and processed food we’re supposed to eat less of, and do almost nothing for the fruits and vegetables we’re supposed to eat more of. If there’s any obligation to spend the public’s money in a way that’s consistent with that same public’s health, shouldn’t it be the other way around?

I would say the answer is “duh.” Of course, given the nature of the farm bill, it’s a bit more complicated.

Related: Last week WRAG consultant Lindsay Smith, who coordinates the Washington Regional Convergence Partnership, provided a run down of what the farm bill means for the Greater Washington region. (Daily, 2/12)

– A new greenhouse will soon be built in Southeast D.C. that will provide fresh produce to Giant stores throughout the region, and create 20 full-time jobs. (DCist, 2/18)

COMMUNITY | The Community Foundation for Northern Virginia has announced over $300,000 in new grants to 36 organizations. (CFNOVA, 2/18)

– A teacher and Greater Greater Education contributor recommends ways DCPS could modify the IMPACT teacher evaluation system, which some say penalizes teachers who work at low-performing schools. (GGE, 2/18)

ARTS | WRAG recently re-launched its Arts & Humanities Working Group. The group represents funders committed to strengthening the local arts and humanities sector. (Daily, 1/19)

MENTAL HEALTH | A report from Virginia officials found that a lack of beds in state mental hospitals is partially caused by patients staying in hospitals long after doctors say they are ready to be discharged. Advocates say this could be addressed by increasing the availability of permanent supportive housing for people with mental illness. (WTOP, 2/19)

– One major health insurance company understands what housing advocates have long been saying about the relationship between health and housing, and is making a $150 million investment in affordable housing. (Marketplace, 2/13)

– According to one measure, you need to earn at least $62,809.63 a year to afford to buy a house in this region. (DCist, 2/18)

– Well, here’s one way we could address the affordable housing shortage. (NPR, 2/17)

HOMELESSNESS | Op-ed: How to help the District’s homeless families (WaPo, 2/14)

Maryland’s Gubernatorial Contenders Agree: The Purple Line Must Be Built (WAMU, 2/19)

Virginia’s New Transportation Chief Has Both Money And Long List Of Projects (WAMU, 2/18)

Are you an artist who hates paying taxes? Consider visiting the nation of Ladonia.

– Rebekah

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