Who owns the pond?
By Annie Gill-Bloyer - Faith Outreach Organizer in Bread's Chicago Office
On a recent Sunday morning, I gave a presentation on reforming the U.S. Farm Bill to a suburban Chicago congregation. The group was new to the idea of church involvement in advocacy, and a number of them seemed hesitant and uncertain that the church should be involved in trying to change government policies. During the Q&A session, one man raised his hand and identified himself as “from Kansas, the breadbasket of America.” He stated that he believed that we here in America have the potential to produce all the food that the world needs, if only we could get the world-wide distribution of it in order. I appreciated his comment, as it clearly came from the heart of one who wanted to follow Jesus’ call to feed God’s sheep. However, I questioned the wisdom of such an approach.
I pointed out that perhaps it would be possible for American farmers to grow enough food for the whole world to eat, but would that really be desirable to our sisters and brothers living in poor parts of the world? Do they forever want to be lining up in food aid lines waiting for their allotted portion of American grain upon which they are daily dependent? Or would they instead prefer to grow their own food for their families, and to be able to sell it in their own markets and get a fair price for it without having to compete with the artificially low prices of American commodities? They say that if you give a person a fish, she will eat for a day. They say that if you teach her fish, she will eat for a lifetime. But I challenged the man in the audience to take the old adage a step further and ask the questions “Who owns the river? Will she be able to get a fair price for her fish, or will she continue to have to compete with subsidized fish from rich countries?”
We cannot simply answer a hungry world with a vague notion of food aid. We must begin to change the structures that prevent people from feeding themselves.
Take Action: Call your senators today about broad reform of the 2007 farm bill.
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