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If you remember back to the last farm bill reform activities, you may even remember Daryll Ray and his analysis around subsidies. Well, myths around subsidies being the root of all evil in the farming system persist even among groups such as Bread for the World. Granted the issue can seem complex and it's easier to mimic what others say (I certainly confess to this sin), but Professor Ray has done a great job of explaining the real story. Thanks to Presbyterian farmer and advisor, Brad Wilson, we have resources on this topic below at the tip of your fingers. Thank you Brad!
And if you wish to learn from and join with Presbyterians discussing (and acting on!) similar topics, such as how folks are overhauling the food system with local and regional faith-based initiatives, you are welcome to join the PCUSA Food and Faith Groupsite. Just sign up to join and you'll soon be part of this growing group of Awesome Agrarian Allies!
Daryll Ray of the Agricultural Policy Analysis Center at the University of Tennessee has written many excellent materials on the farm bill, price floors, (“price supports,”) farm subsidies, supply management, and related topics.
Ray’s best summary of the topic is probably the Executive Summary to his (et al) 2003 report: “ Rethinking US Agricultural Policy: Changing Course to Secure Farmer Livelihoods Worldwide.”
Ray has written nearly a dozen years worth of weekly policy columns on farm bill issues, (1-2 pages each) plus an “Archived Series” of earlier columns. I’ve selected and linked some of the key columns in two of my content boxes at zspace . Scroll down to “Farm Bill Primer” and also “Food Crisis Primer,” (which is also about the farm bill). Look for “APAC” in the links to find the materials from Daryll Ray. There are also many other excellent materials there, by the other leading farm bill justice advocates (ie. The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, Food and Water Watch, Tim Wise of the Global Development and Environment program at Tufts University). There is also a list of my blogs (“Most Recent Content,” etc.,) which specifically fill in some of the missing pieces, and address food movement issues.
Legislative proposals to address these concerns include the Food from Family Farms Act of the National Family Farm Coalition, (and see a series of 3 short videos of earlier proposals starting here,) the Harkin-Gephardt Farm Bill of the 1980s and 1990s, (see a 1980s video slide show here) and Daryll Ray’s proposal in the report cited above (p. 43+ of the report; Ray discusses price supports on pp. 16, 44, 46, etc. of the report, but not much in his columns).
Let us know what you think about any of this, for example, by commenting on this.
2011 National PEC Faith & Environment Conference
"God's Earth: Too Big to Fail? An Eco-Justice Conversation Among Faith, Science and Culture"
August 31 - September 3, 2011, at Highlands Presbyterian Camp and Retreat Center in the mountains of Colorado.
Keynote speakers include Dr. William Brown, author of The Seven Pillars of Creation: The Bible, Science and the Ecology of Wonder; Dr. Marcia Ishii-Eiteman, senior scientist and director of sustainable foods at the Pesticide Action Network; Carol Raffenspurger, Executive Director of the Science and Environmental Health Network; Dr. Hayes, Professor with expertise in amphibian biology at the University of California Berkley; Dr. Holmes Rolston III, environmental ethics scholar; Dr. John E. Ikerd, professor emeritus of agricultural economics at the University of Missouri Columbia.
Special thanks to our conference sponsors, including Environmental Ministries, the Presbytery of Olympia, the Presbytery of the Inland Northwest, Second Presbyterian of Little Rock, and Second Presbyterian Church Indianapolis.
Dr. William P. Brown, Professor
Conference Plenary Moderator and Worship Leader
Recent Work to be discussed at Conference:
Tevyn East of The Affording Hope Project
Conference Creative Artist
Will perform Leaps & Bounds
Dr. Tyrone B. Hayes, Professor
Conference Plenary Presenter
Click the above link to learn more about his interests, research, and publications
Dr. Marcia Ishii-Eiteman, Senior Scientist of PANNA
Conference Plenary Presenter
Paul Quinn College Turns Football Stadium into Farm Paul Quinn College (TX) recently planted the first seeds in a former football field that will now serve the college as a student-run, two-acre urban farm.
After grocers told the college's president that they didn't want to invest in the underserved Dallas neighborhood where the college is located, he contacted the Sustainable Food Project at Yale University (CT) for a crash course on organic agriculture and educational programs that emphasize the importance of local, healthy food. Part of the harvest will be sold to the company that runs concessions at Cowboys Stadium and the other will be donated nonprofit groups that feed the hungry. By fall the college plans to create a farmers market on its outdoor recreational basketball courts and eventually open its own grocery store.
University of Maryland Students Enlist Goats for Campus Weeding
Students at the University of Maryland have contracted goats to combat weeds in a proposed garden area near the School of Public Health. More than 30 goats grazed for three days, clearing the way for fruit and vegetable growing. Also aimed at bringing attention to the new garden, the $1,300 initiative was funded by an Office of Sustainability grant from mandatory student sustainability fees.
All people have the right to decide what they eat and to ensure that food in their community is healthy and accessible for everyone. This is the basic principle behind food sovereignty. If you want to support domestic food security through the production of healthy food at a fair price, and you believe that family farmers and fishers should have the first right to local and regional markets, then food sovereignty is for you.
This excellent booklet is now available in Spanish (plus English and Portuguese!). Share it with your friends and family. Put it on your bulletin board at work. Read it to your children for a bedtime story...
Connecting food and faith . . .
What are the connections of food sovereignty to our faith values? To our commitment to end hunger? Read Turning the Tables: People First and The Daily Bread by two theologians from Brazil for their reflections on these questions.
Learn more about food sovereignty and consider organizational membership in the US Food Sovereignty Alliance. Congregations may join too!
Click here to go the USFSA website.
On Sunday morning, May 1st, I was working in the church garden with the kids during worship. Like many churches, we send the kids out to Sunday School after the Children’s Sermon, and then come running back in for communion on the weeks when it is served. My hands were muddy from scooping holes into the ground for the tomato plants and I did not pause to wash them on my way back into the sanctuary.
We’re trying to do a little Creation-Care as well as Feed-The-Hungry learning in the garden but quite frankly, that morning, the nearby swing set, not to mention the super cool hillside of mulch had more attraction power then the tomatoes & peppers part. Although harvesting, and eating the peas did pull the kids back from tossing the pine cone bombs for a few minutes. I’m thinking the key to Christian Education with this crew will be the ability to talk fast when the windows open up. Also, bribing with food seems promising as well.
Calls for food justice and food sovereignty are echoing around world. From landless farmers in Brazil to seed savers in India, from urban farms in Oakland to affordable produce drop-offs in Cleveland, from agroecological farms around Lake Victoria in Kenya to farmer-owned cooperatives in Wisconsin, the sprouting of sustainable and just food systems is as sure as spring rains.
Hundreds of PCUSA congregations are joining the movement—opening their kitchens, digging food gardens, hosting farmers markets, and advocating forfair food policies.
Sixteen Food Justice Fellows, comprised of pastors, urban agriculturalists, grassroots advocates and students, have begun their work together and in their own communities. The Fellows will develop their own personal agrarian/food justice faith statements to more deeply ground their work. The idea came from participants of the HEART trip and the Presbyterian Hunger Program (PHP) is hosting this national fellowship.
PHP is also hosting two Americorps*VISTAs who are supporting congregations in their efforts to bring food access to neglected parts of of our cities and states.
Interested people are invited to join the Fellows, VISTAs and other Presbyterians online on the Food and Faith Groupsite to share ideas about ways you and your congregation can address inequities in your local food economy and around the world. Congregations and faith-based groups are also invited to join the US Food Sovereignty Alliance. PHP is a founding member and has been active in its development. Learn more about the Alliance here.
Finally, for ideas and practical assistance, consider joining the Food Justice for All Webinars for free. Click on the webinar you wish to participate in to register.
Ever wanted your church to grow its own food, or become a pick-up spot for local produce shares?
Do you want to make sure families in need have access to good, healthy food?
Learn from others' experiences about how your congregation can get involved in the movement to bring communities together around fresh, healthy and local food!
Join one of the Presbyterian Hunger Program (PHP) "Food Justice for All" webinars!
PHP will be hosting a series of learning calls/webinars to explore ways that congregations around the country are growing community by alleviating hunger and connecting healthy local food to people and communities with little access. The webinars will detail proven faith-based initiatives like summer-feeding programs, community gardens, farmers markets, tactics for getting local produce in food pantries and kitchens, and other models for linking people with healthy and local food.
Sign up for the webinars by clicking on the registration link below:
“The day that hunger is eradicated from the Earth there will be the greatest spiritual explosion the world has ever known. Humanity cannot imagine the joy that will burst into the world on the day of that great revolution.” (Federico Garcia Lorca)
If you have heard the term - FOOD SOVEREIGNTY - and not known what the hay it is (or how to spell it!), take heart because you are not alone.
Luckily, our friends at Grassroots International and the National Family Farm Coalition have come to the rescue. Now you can hear U.S. and international family farmers talk about what food sovereignty is to them - simply! And concisely!!
And you can read it in your mother tongue, if that happens to be English, Spanish or Portugese. (French is coming soon)
Food Sovereignty for all!
All people have the right to decide what they eat and to ensure that food in their community is healthy and accessible for everyone.
“Oh taste and see that the Lord is good.” (Psalm 34:8)
The US Food Sovereignty Alliance launched on World Food Day 2010. Since October, representatives from member organizations have been dialoguing with grassroots organizations, faith groups and coalitions -- primarily in the United States but linked to the global movement for food sovereignty -- to create an alliance for positive change. The Presbyterian Hunger Program has been an active member since the groups came together as the US Food Crisis Working Group, which formed in reaction to the 2008 global food crisis. PHP has been collaborating as the ad-hoc coalition formalizes and invites groups to join together to remake sustainable food economies everywhere so they serve people, both consumers and producers. Theologians from around the world were invited to reflect on the need to turn the tables on an often unjust food system and one of them, Sofia Oreland, despite the fact that she was due with her second child, responded. Here is her reflection...
Food for My Child
By Sofia Oreland
Sweden Theologian and Policy Advisor, Education and Mobilization, Church of Sweden
I gave birth to a child, Baby Brother (Lillebror, the name his sister gave him). Everything seemed fine. But when Baby Brother was only eight hours old doctors discovered he had several life-threatening heart problems. We were given emergency transport to the Swedish hospital that performs pediatric heart surgery. Once in his unit, Baby Brother shared an observation room with three others, with staff persons continuously supervising their young patients. Baby Brother’s surgery was postponed twice, the first time due on an onset of sepsis, the second time because the ICU was full. We spent two weeks, anxiously waiting and watching him.
Baby Brother was too tired to nurse, partly due to the heart problems, partly due to the strong life-sustaining medication. But every day I gave him the breast, hoping that this was the day he would have the strength to eat. After a couple of courageous attempts he always fell asleep. He was too tired. This was painful to watch. But then one day it happened: he was able to eat one whole meal! It was a fantastic feeling of liberation, relief. I was all smiles and when I looked up I discovered two African women, at the bedside of an older boy, watching me with Baby Brother in my arms. They saw my joy, our eyes met, and there, below their veils, their faces broke into big smiles as well. It was evident that they understood, that they were able to share my emotion and deep joy.