Action Needed This Week
The House Agriculture Committee passed its version of the Farm Bill last week. “This is not real reform,” said Bread for the World President David Beckmann. “This is a ruse.” The bill that the committee passed does not significantly change our trade-distorting commodity payments. While it provides some extra money for nutrition assistance, rural development and conservation, these increases are very modest. In a country as wealthy as ours, we can do more for poor and hungry people.
The bill will come to the House floor this week. Bread for the World is asking Representatives to vote for the Fairness in Farm and Food Policy Amendment, introduced by Reps. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Ron Kind (D-WI). This amendment would help farmers of modest means in the U.S., while also allowing farmers in other countries to earn a living. Using the money saved through these reforms, it would promote nutrition, conservation and rural development programs.
If you would like to get involved, you can call your Representative toll-free, at 1-800-826-3688. Tell him/her to support the Fairness in Farm and Food Policy Amendment, because the bill passed by the Agriculture Committee does little to address the inequities in our farm payments. The Farm Bill is only reauthorized once every five years, so this is a crucial time to help hungry people in this country and around the world.
1.) Over half of laborers in the developing world work in agriculture. Our current commodity payment system lowers worldwide prices, making it difficult for farmers in other countries to earn a living. The Fairness Amendment would support farmers of modest means in this country and does not hurt farmers around the world.
2.) The average per-person food stamp benefit is only $1.03, which is not enough to support a balanced diet. Half of all food stamp participants are children, who are particularly affected by poor nutrition. The Fairness Amendment significantly bolsters domestic nutrition programs, so that our most vulnerable citizens can purchase healthy foods.
3.) Poverty and hunger rates are highest in rural America. We can promote rural development through broadband Internet access, incentives for local entrepreneurs and investments in community infrastructure. The Fairness Amendment provides twice as much money for rural development than the bill passed by the Agriculture Committee.
4.) Conservation is crucial to the future of farming in America and for the preservation of our resources. However, many applicants to conservation programs are turned away because of insufficient funding. The Fairness Amendment includes more money for land stewardship, including more funds to promote clean water and wildlife habitats, as well as the preservation of open spaces.
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