Q: When is it worth my time to write to my Senators? A: Now.
Whenever Presbyterians approach our food and farm policies, we can hang our hats on our faith conviction “that God our Creator has made the world for everyone, and desires that all shall have daily bread” (UPCUSA, Minutes, 1979, p. 189). This underlying conviction of a right to food shapes our advocacy about agriculture and the food system.
With this value in mind, you can weigh in on the Farm Bill debates that are heating up in our nation’s capital ~ Write to your Senators about the Farm Bill today! This link takes you straight to the PCUSA which allows you to reach your Senators in less than a minute. Seriously. Time yourself.
“Why would I do that? you ask . . .
Well, our nation’s food and farm policies, as embodied in the U.S. Farm Bill, impact people and communities from rural America, to urban centers, to developing countries – hundreds of millions of people! In the current budget climate, the Farm Bill’s limited resources must be targeted effectively where the need is greatest. We must prioritize programs and policies that curb hunger and malnutrition, support vibrant agricultural economies in rural communities, and promote the sustainable use of natural resources.
The PC(USA) Office of Public Witness has joined with the interfaith community to call for a Farm Bill that promotes local food security in the U.S. and around the world, strengthen rural communities, and care for the land as God’s creation.
The Senate is currently debating the reauthorization of the Farm Bill – the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012 – and consideration promises to drag out for over a week, as hundreds of amendments will be offered. Your Senators need to hear from you about a just and healthy Farm Bill.
The letter will do this automatically, but let’s lay out the important issues. What we want is a Farm Bill that:
- Restores cuts to the SNAP program, while reforming crop insurance subsidies. Senator Gillibrand has introduced an amendment to this effect.
- Fully funds conservation programs, such as the Conservation Stewardship Program, and preserves the conservation compact, making sure that enrollment in any new insurance subsidies are tied directly to compliance with conservation programs.
- Includes full mandatory funding for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers through the 2501 title. Senator Udall has introduced an amendment to this end.
- Includes all elements of the Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act (S. 1773) introduced by Senator Brown.
- Includes the Packer Ban to limit consolidation in the meat industry, in accordance with the amendment introduced by Senator Grassley.
- Robustly funds the Rural Development title, which is essential for spurring rural economic activity and creating jobs.
- Shifts our food and farm policy away from price supports that advantage the large, industrial farms, and instead levels the playing field for small and medium-sized growers, as well as a new generation of farmers.
U.S. food and agricultural policy must focus on adopting best agricultural practices that put the health of its citizens, the land and the livelihood of farmers and farm workers over the interests of a small number of large, industrial agriculture operations. Stand up to protect not only farmers, without whom we would all go hungry, but to enact a food and farm bill that fairly and judiciously serves the interests of all Americans.
In a 1985 statement, the Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly wrote “we believe it is the responsibility and duty of the Federal government to enact a comprehensive, long-term food and fiber policy, with specific price, production and conservation goals designed to protect and enhance family-farm agriculture in the United States … We believe further that this nation must establish a strong system of sustainable agriculture and prevent the continuing concentration of land in the hands of a smaller and smaller number of owners” (Minutes, 1985, p. 399).
You’re still reading? Click here and register your beliefs with your civil servants sitting in Congress.