"...and on that farm he read the newspaper..."
The farm bill and its related issues continue to make headlines, welcome news that awareness is still being generated about how much hunger, nutrition and real, everyday people are affected by this critically important piece of legislation.
The unwelcome news is that the farm bill and these issues are still in the news because in its current form the bill is directly (negatively) exacerbating the global food economy as well as American families' abilities to keep enough, nutritious food on the table in the coming years (not what we need while already headed for recession).
First up - the writers of this New York Times article forgot to check last week's Op-Eds, because they fail to fully explain what they mean when they say "farmers are flourishing." In the context of this article, they mean that farmers who receive commodity payments (i.e. for only growing corn, wheat, soy, rice and/or cotton) are flourishing due to the spike in world prices/demand for these commodities and the fact that they still are paid hand over fist by the farm bill for growing just these things. Millions of small and specialty farmers in this country are left out.
As the Washington Post rightly points out in a perfectly timed editorial today, there is no reason billions of dollars should continue to go to these large farmers in such a boon time when millions of poor and hungry families could use boosts in the nutrition programs to help them cope with the rising costs of basic food needs. If you're a regular reader of this blog/Bread materials, you'll know that the Senate already DID approve caps on commodity payments, etc, but they were stopped short by the actions of Sen. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, etc, as the editorial also points out.
Finally, none other than Bread for the World President David Beckmann also had an Op-Ed published in the Washington Times on Thursday. He highlights in powerful language all that could be done to improve the farm bill still and that Congress has it within its power to see some of these economically pragmatic (and stimulating) and morally just decisions done the right way.
Fired up about the injustices and opportunities still before Congress on the farm bill after reading all of that? Read what actions you can take HERE.
P.S. On a more personal note, I'm struck by this quote from the New York Times article on grain shortages:
“Everyone wants to eat like an American on this globe,” said Daniel W. Basse of the AgResource Company, a Chicago consultancy. “But if they do, we’re going to need another two or three globes to grow it all.”
Last time I checked, for those who can manage we have a bit of an over-eating problem in this country. Our portions and the kinds of things we eat proportionally to what we should be eating are grotesque, by and large - either in the restaurant or in the home. I'm not holding anything against Mr. Basse here. In truth, he's actually pointing out that we (as Americans) in our bounty set a bar for the rest of the world that's impossible to emulate from a resource standpoint. Even though we're a world of plenty, the 'American Dream' of a two-car garage and Golden Corrals at every intersection is entirely unsustainable for 6 billion people - and unnecessary for us all to live healthy, "normal" lives and still share the planet equitably.
Interested in an estimate of your "global footprint"? Click here for a fascinating test of "how many Earths we would need" if we all lived like you. Last time I checked, I think I was at about 4.5. Ouch!
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