Farm Bill Action Reminder
June 5th, 2013
In conjunction with the US Catholic Bishops’ Conference, we continue to urge Congress to enact a Farm Bill that alleviates hunger, supports vibrant farms and healthy communities, and protects God’s creation.
This week, the Senate is voting on amendments and then will hold a final vote on their version of the Farm Bill. There is still time to contact your Senators and ask them to support a fair and just Farm Bill. Here is a review of some of the policies and programs that Catholic Rural Life, of which the Oblates are a member, and other faith groups are supporting in reauthorization of the Farm Bill:
Nutrition programs that alleviate hunger and malnutrition:
We ask Congress to protect and strengthen programs that reduce hunger and improve nutrition in the United States. We ask that funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) be protected from cuts and harmful structural changes that would increase hunger in our nation. SNAP has proved to be an effective and efficient response to hunger in the United States.
It is equally important to sustain robust international food aid and improve the nutritional quality of food aid. We ask for robust funding for programs that provide emergency and non-emergency food aid for the hungry. As the world’s largest provider of international food aid, the United States must also lead the way in improving quality to maximize the nutritional benefit.
Specifically, we ask Congress to reform international food aid by purchasing more of the food in the areas where it is consumed. Local and regional procurement can help more hungry people for the same cost, support rural development in low-income countries and increase global food security.
Farm programs that support vibrant rural communities:
Ask Congress to help beginning farmers and ranchers get a start in the business of agriculture. That means funding programs like the Beginning Farmer & Rancher Development Program and targeted assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers & Ranchers. These programs will help grow the next generation of farmers while also helping women and minority groups who want to farm.
Ask Congress to build local and regional food systems. For rural communities, we ask Congress to support programs such as the Farmers Market Promotion Program, Senior Farmers Market Program and the Farmers Market EBT Program, which provide new markets for small and mid-sized farmers in suburbs and cities, offering consumers the opportunity to support local producers and giving people in vulnerable communities greater access to fresh food.
Conservation programs that protect God’s creation:
We ask Congress to strengthen policies and programs that promote conservation of soil and water and protect creation from environmental degradation. The Senate must continue to protect funding for conservation programs, particularly the Conservation Stewardship Program, which have substantial waiting lists and serve a diverse base of farmers and ranchers. Funds for this and other reserve programs should not be used to pay for other priorities: farms and ranches play a key role in ensuring soil and water quality and in maintaining open space and wildlife habitat.
Our nation’s food and farm policies, as embodied in the Farm Bill, affect people from rural America to inner cities, from our local communities to less industrialized regions around the world.
A good farm bill can strengthen nutrition programs, help our struggling rural communities, support new and socially disadvantaged farmers, enhance global food aid to the world’s most impoverished, and encourage farming and ranching practices that protect God’s creation.
Thanks to National Catholic Rural Life Coalition for this action alert!