Peace & Justice

This is the blog of the Commission on Peace and Justice for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, New York.

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Farm bill

The Farm bill comes up in Congress for renewal every five or six years and sets U.S. agriculture policy in a number of key areas. According to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB):

Federal farm programs began during the Great Depression when one-quarter of the U.S. population lived on farms. For generations, the federal government has guaranteed minimum prices to farmers and allowed farmers to sell some crops to the federal government when markets were poor. Loan deficiency payments or subsidies for certain commodity crops like corn, wheat, rice, cotton and soybeans are the most common guarantees. The current structure, however, excludes or leaves behind many small farmers and ranchers who must compete with larger producers and wealthier farmers.

The 2012 reauthorization of the Farm bill provides an opportunity to reshape the current, broken agricultural policies to build a more just framework that better serves small and moderate-size family farms in the U.S., promotes good stewardship of the land, overcomes hunger here and abroad and helps vulnerable farmers and their families in developing countries. It also provides an opportunity to strengthen and improve the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program-SNAP (formerly known as the Food Stamps Program), a key part of the fight against hunger in the United States, and to strengthen international food security aid programs for starving people abroad.

During the 2012 Farm bill discussion, the Catholic community will offer a united, constructive, and active voice in the debate about how U.S. farm policies affect hungry people, domestic farmers, food producers and consumers, and promote conservation of creation. A remarkable Catholic partnership (USCCB, National Catholic Rural Life Conference, Catholic Charities USA, and Catholic Relief Services) will urge Congress to adopt policies that support domestic farmers, promote rural development, and reduce hunger and poverty in the United States and around the world. Half the world’s population relies on agriculture to make a living. Most poor or extremely poor people around the globe (i.e., those living on less than $2 or $1 per day) live in rural areas, so agriculture reform is a primary means for alleviating poverty.

The USCCB has a website devoted to this issue, The Farm Bill: Principles and Priorities.

Labels: ,