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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.
“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 next Farm Bill isn’t supposed to come until 2012, but Congress started work on it last month, two-and-a-half years ahead of schedule. Not surprisingly, no one’s asking everyday people or everyday farmers what they want from the bill.
Here are some great ways to stay abreast of this critical legislative work --
Farm Policy, a daily newsletter about food and farm policy. Sign up for the email service and you’ll receive everything you need to know about what’s going on in D.C. It’s a ton of information, but worth skimming each morning.
The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition’s blog. The Presbyterian Hunger Program has been supporting this excellent coalition for over a decade.
The Farm Bill and Beyond, an outstanding and very comprehensive report about how the 2008 Farm Bill came to be. It’s a little long, but definitely worth reading if you want some insight on how the next fight will play out.
And the soon-to-be launched US Food Sovereignty Alliance will have great analysis and ways to engage. Contact Andrew to learn how you can get involved in the Alliance.
Thanks to Slow Food USA
So, what are everyday people and farmers saying what they want from our food and farm policy?
Prepare Ye the Churches Week of Action on Food!
It is now time to gear up for the Churches Week of Action on Food from 10-17 October. During the Week you will be connected to thousands of people, churches and communities around the world in a movement calling for change in the way food is grown, sold, distributed and shared. It is a time to lift up the voices of small-scale food producers, particularly women, to have choices on what crops to grow and how they can grow these crops.
The Week in October goes from October 10-17, Sunday to Sunday and is a key time for action:
12 October is Indigenous Peoples' Day
15 October is International Day for Rural Women
16 October is World Food Day
17 October is International Day for the Eradication of Poverty
Also, 11-16 October is Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Committee on Food Security (CFS) meeting, Rome, Italy and good time to advocate for FOOD for ALL! FOOD for LIFE!
The EAA, with help from PCUSA, has produced a Resource Guide for the Week of Action -- Download Food-week-guide2010. The guide offers action ideas, as well as worship resources, including a liturgy and a prayer card.
Hold a Sunday worship service (which is in Word, so you can download and modify it for your church) on food and gender on the Sunday at the beginning or end of the Week of Action or on both days. And you can also find many other resources here.
What can I do?
More action ideas are available in the Resource Guide! Download Food-week-guide2010
Like the Churches Food Week of Action facebook page and post what you are doing there!
Tags: action, agriculture, ecumenical, food, justice, land, life, pcusa, presbyterian, right, sovereignty, women
Last year, I had the pleasure of meeting the co-producers and stars of the documentary, Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis, at a pre-release showing at a Kellogg Foundation conference. (Don't you love the not unintentional irony of the King of Corn Flakes showing King Corn?) Not only is the film highly entertaining, it educates about the aristocratic status corn maintains in our U.S. and global food system.
A colleague from the Community Food Security Coalition, which is a PC(USA) partner and grantee of the Hunger Program, has written a great review of King Corn on her blog.
You can also visit the great King Corn site (with trailer, reviews and action items), the Corn Association Refiners Statement on King Corn, and the You Tube of King Corn. (PCUSA employees have had their You Tube and Web 2.0 sites blocked, so you are on your own with that last link. But know that your donations to the PC(USA) are not going for employees social networking habits!)
We had a spirited protest with drumming and street theater. Rumor has it that the Academy is looking for video footage for next year's awards. Coverage of the rally aired Wednesday on the six o'clock news on at least one TV station, WAVE 3, and has also been covered several times by WFPL 89.3 Wednesday and Thursday morning.
For those of you that could not make it, you missed a great show! Street theater, colorful signs, marching, chanting, and drumming kept us warm despite the 10 degree wind chill! Six protesters were invited to go up to McConnell's office to speak with Larry Cox, his senior aid, who listened to our concerns. Cox received a letter to the senator stating our requests to fully fund nutrition and conservation programs, establish commodity subsidy payment caps and help secure mandatory funding for minority farmers.
Other photos are available on Andrew's Flick site for now, and will be up on the PCUSA Better Farm Bill site soon. Please stay tuned to Better Farm Bill and this blog for updates and possible action alerts.
The Presbyterian News Service carried the story of the rally on Tuesday.
The House and the Senate each passed a farm bill last year that included billions of dollars in spending above the current baseline on food stamps, conservation, energy and aid to the fruit and vegetable industry ($11
Today Acting Agriculture Secretary Chuck Conner hosted a conference call with bloggers. The Presbyterian Hunger Program (USA)/foodandfaithblog.org was invited and I ended up being one of a handful of people talking with Sec. Conner.
The Agriculture Secretary reiterated the administration’s stance on taxes and “budget gimmicks” in the farm bill. They are non-negotiable. They also have issues with the lack of reform in regards to payment limits, but say the number one priority that needs to be dealt with are the tax and budget issues.
As has been discussed for most of 2007 and in recent publications, the administration is threatening a veto of the status-quo farm bills that have been passed by the House and Senate. Today, Sec. Conner told us that he and the president’s other advisor’s would unanimously recommend a veto if the tax and budget issues are not addressed.
This has led to a situation where there is an opportunity for some reform measures to come out of conference. The administration is in active talks with the House and Senate Ag Committee Chairs and reforms could happen in conference that would allow the president to sign the bill.
But, unfortunately . . .