Friday, October 26, 2007

Millennium Development Goals progress report

I finally got my hands on a really good report from the UN Millennium Campaign about the Millennium Development Goals status in 2007. Here it is!
The director of the Millennium Campaign spoke recently in Portland about this progress. A fellow Bread for the World activist, Mike Hiland, reported on Mr. Shetty's comments at Here are some excerpts...

"The developed countries are falling short of the pledges they made in aid and debt forgiveness. Another key goal is reducing developed country agricultural subsidies and opening our markets to trade (the farm bill)."

"The positive developments include a one-third reduction in extreme poverty since 1990, and if this trend continues we will meet the goal in poverty reduction. Even in sub-Saharan Africa the number of poor has leveled off and the poverty rate has started a small decline, but we are still not on track to meet the goal here. Progress is being made in education and child mortality. We are falling short of the goals in reducing maternal mortality, the proportion of under weight children, improving basic sanitation and in the fight against AIDS.

He mentioned that the most important thing we can be doing is to demand that our leaders keep their word and meet our commitments in aid, debt forgiveness and disease prevention. He cited the key work being done by groups like The One Campaign, Bread for the World and Jubilee. Writing letters and getting the word out so more people will write letters, this was in effect our assignment and our challenge."

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Ag Committee Misses Opportunity. Senate fight not over yet.

The Senate is moving quickly on the 2007 farm bill. The Senate Agriculture Committee began its consideration of the farm bill on October 24 and voted the bill out of committee October 25.

The committee repeatedly expressed support for increases in the nutrition title, including the Food Stamp Program. But despite these assertions, the Senate Agriculture Committee did not find sufficient offsets to match the increases in food stamps passed by the House.

"Members of the Senate Agriculture Committee spoke eloquently about the need to do more to help the 35 million Americans who struggle to put food on their table. But their words didn't translate into changes in farm policy that would make that happen. We hope that when the full Senate takes up the farm bill, they'll follow through and make sure it reflects the values they were espousing," said Bread for the World president David Beckmann. "Small changes to commodity payment programs could make a big difference for hungry people in this country, many of whom live in rural communities."

Beckmann added, "The Agriculture Committee missed a great opportunity with the Lugar amendment." Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN) proposed an amendment that would have provided additional funding for the Food Stamp Program (to increase asset limits and the minimum monthly benefit) by making a small cut to Direct Payments in the commodity title. It was defeated by a vote of 17-4. Senators Brown (D-OH), Casey (D-PA) and McConnell (R-KY) voted with Lugar for the amendment. For more information, read Bread for the World's press statement.

Bread for the World will send out an action alert early next week, once we have further details of the Agriculture Committee bill. Please check your email for the message to give your senators as the farm bill moves to the floor. Stay tuned as we work to pass a strong farm bill in the Senate!