Every five years, the Congress debates a piece of legislation that more often than not goes unnoticed by most of the country. This all-encompassing legislation, known as the farm bill, deals with reauthorizing (renewing) our country's policies related to agriculture, nutrition, conservation and trade.
Yes, this legislation is about spending priorities. How do we support the people who put food on our table and the land that produces such food?
But this farm bill is also about moral values. Are we ensuring that everyone in our country and in other countries has access to nutritious and safe food in the long term? Are we promoting long-term access to food by supporting conservation, sustainable agriculture, fair trade policies?
As people of faith, we have the opportunity to participate in the debate through Bread for the World's Offering of Letters, Seeds of Change: Help Farmers. End Hunger
"Perhaps the most powerful way we can serve people in need is with our voices," says Bread for the World's Biblical Basis for this year's Offering of Letters. "We are blessed to be living in a technologically advanced age, and in the most influential and wealthy country in the world. We are further blessed that our country is a participatory democracy where our voices—and our letters—can make a difference. With those blessings comes responsibility."
At the broader level, Bread for the World and eight other Christian denominations and organizations have come together to craft a joint statement on the 2007 Farm Bill. In the statement, the nine organizations/denominations "join together to support policies that promote economic justice...that strengthen rural communities...that foster right relations among nations...that achieve an end to hunger."
With this broad effort, perhaps we can all work together to ensure that the farm bill truly works to end hunger and poverty in our country and overseas.
Religious Working Group on The Farm Bill
From God's initial command to be good stewards of creation to the Prophets' call for justice among governments and nations, people of faith in every age are called together to work for the common good. Inspired by Jesus' command to care for poor and hungry people, we join together to support polices that promote economic justice, strengthen rural communities at home and around the world, care for the land as God's creation, foster right relations among the nations and achieve an end to hunger.
Broad reform of U.S. food and farm policy, including adjustments to commodity payment programs, is important to progress against hunger and poverty in this country and around the world. The curent system should be changed in ways that would strengthen communities in rural America, ensure all Americans an adequate and nutritious diet, provide better and more targeted support for U.S. farm families of modest means, and conserve the land for present and future generations. In addition, such changes are necessary to unlock the ability of small-holder farmers in developing countries, who comprise the majority of the world's hungry people, to improve their livelihoods and escape poverty.
The working group will urge Congress to take the opportunity presented by the reauthorization of the Farm Bill to prioritize policies that reduce hunger and poverty in the United States and around the world. To this end we support the following principles in the 2007 farm bill.
The 2007 Farm Bill should
Increase investments that combat rural poverty and strengthen rural communities
Strengthen and expand programs that reduce hunger and improve nutrition in the United States
Strengthen and increase investment in policies that promote conservation and good stewardship of the land
Provide transitions for farmers to alternative forms of support that are most equitable and do not distort trade in ways that fuel hunger and poverty
Protect the health and safety of farmworkers
Expand research related to alternative and renewable forms of energy
Improve and expand international food aid in ways that encourage local food security
Bread for the World
Church World Service
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
National Council of Churches
The Episcopal Church
Presbyterian Church (USA), Washington Office
United Church of Christ Justice and Witness Ministries
United Methodist Church General Board of Church and Society
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops