Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Sojourners: Reform US agriculture subsidies that screw people in Africa and small US farmers

When you think of family farmers, do you picture comedian David Letterman or former NBA star Scottie Pippen? How about billionaires like David Rockefeller and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen?

Amazingly, they're some of the people receiving your taxpayer dollars in the form of crop subsidies, which overwhelmingly benefit absentee landlords and big agribusiness at the expense of farmers in America and the developing world who are struggling to feed their families.

Right now, Congress is deciding whether to extend these unfair subsidies as part of the Farm Bill, a mammoth but little-known piece of legislation that governs our nation's agricultural policies. It affects everyone who eats, not just those who farm.

Click here to tell Congress: Poor farmers need our help, but big agribusiness doesn't.

Here's one example: In West Africa, millions of desperately poor people farm cotton to make a living, often surviving on less than $1 a day. But our cotton subsidies make it more difficult for these farmers to survive by artificially lowering the price of cotton in violation of international agreements.

Moreover, by disproportionately subsidizing corn, wheat, and soy, the current Farm Bill encourages us to eat cheap, unhealthy, and fattening processed foods instead of fresh fruits and vegetables. As writer Michael Pollan puts it, "the reason the least healthful calories in the supermarket are the cheapest is that those are the ones the Farm Bill encourages farmers to grow."

In short, our current system of farm subsidies makes no sense—for those who grow food or those who eat it. We must make sure that Congress takes this opportunity to reform the Farm Bill, or these policies will continue for another five years.

Send a message to your senators and representative: It's time for fair food policy!

Remember, this issue is being decided right now, so your senators and representative need to hear from you today.

Thank you for all that you do.


Gini, Bob, and the rest of the team at Sojourners/Call to Renewal

P.S. The Farm Bill is being written by a handful of congresspeople in committees that have loyalties to a few farming districts. To make a difference, we need to overwhelm our representatives with the demand for reform—can you forward this message to at least five of your friends, family, or congregation members?

1 comment:

Chuck Warpehoski said...

The other thing that's a big part of the Farm Bill is food stamp funding.

Here's the kicker--President Bush has proposed cutting Food Stamps to help pay for the war in Iraq.

To help make some noise about this, the Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice is kicking off the Michigan Food Stamp Challenge.

Basically, we're asking folks to try to live a week on just $21 worth of food, $1 a meal. That's all the average food stamp beneficiary gets.

The Challenge goes from September 4-10, give it a try!