Friday, November 2, 2007

Farm Bill Call in! Call by 11/5!

Now is the time for much-needed action on the Farm Bill. Please see the message below and make your calls!

Please call Senators Durbin and Obama by Monday, November 5, at 1-800-826-3688. Ask them to support the following amendments to the farm bill as they come up on the floor:

Lugar/Lautenberg Amendment
Grassley/Dorgan Amendment
Other amendments that strengthen nutrition programs
[Note: This toll-free number will connect you to the Capitol switchboard, where you will ask to be connected to your senator’s office in order to leave your message.]

The full Senate will begin debating the farm bill on Monday, November 5. Votes on specific amendments will likely begin on Tuesday, November 6. Your senator has a critical voice in deciding whether our farm bill will be changed in ways that benefit poor and hungry people here at home and around the world, make programs fairer for U.S. farm and rural families and enable poor farmers in poor countries to earn their way out of poverty. Please call as soon as possible.

The farm bill passed by the Senate Agriculture Committee made modest changes, but did little to reform unfair commodity programs. The full Senate now has its turn to reform the farm bill. Senators have a chance to strengthen the nutrition program (especially the Food Stamp Program) and conservation and rural development programs and make the commodity programs fairer to all our nations’ farmers. It is their turn to seize the opportunity to create a more just farm bill.

*Lugar/Lautenberg Amendment: The Lugar-Lautenberg amendment would broaden the agricultural safety net by making a free revenue insurance program available to all farmers. This would save billions dollars that would be used to invest in nutrition programs, specialty crop programs (improving research and marketing opportunities for the majority of farmers, who currently do not benefit at all from farm programs); critical conservation programs and the McGovern-Dole international school feeding program.

*Grassley/Dorgan Amendment: The Grassley-Dorgan amendment would establish a hard cap for commodity payments at $250,000 per household, helping ensure payments are targeted where they are needed. The amendment would also make sure that payments flow to working farmers rather than their landlords. The money saved from capping payments to the largest producers and landowners would be redirected into nutrition and conservation programs.

*Other amendments that add funding to nutrition: At stake are additional investments in the Food Stamp Program—especially the standard deduction level. There will be several amendments offered to increase funding for nutrition programs. Senators should support amendments that build on the improvements made in the Senate Agriculture Committee.

Your vote on the farm bill can help make great strides against hunger and poverty here at home and around the world. Support amendments like Lugar/Lautenberg, Grassley/Dorgan, and other amendments that put additional funding into nutrition programs. These amendments would provide a safety net for all farmers—not just those who grow program crops, make our commodity system fairer for smaller family farmers and adequately fund other vital needs in nutrition.

Key points:
- Over 35 million Americans- including more that 12 million children- struggle to put food on the table. Please strengthen and commit new resources to the Food Stamp Program.
- Current farm and rural development programs are not serving the urgent needs of rural America, where rates of hunger and poverty are higher. Please prioritize the needs of poor rural Americans as you write the 2007 farm bill.
- Current commodity programs concentrate payments at the upper end of the income scale for farmers who grow program crops, like cotton, corn, wheat, soybeans and rice. This trend has accelerated in recent years. By 2003, one quarter went to households earning more than $160,142. This must change.
- A fair and balanced farm bill for the U.S. also requires consideration of its impact on poor farmers overseas. Please ensure that our farm support programs do not make it more difficult for poor farm families in low-income countries to earn their way out of poverty.
- Make the primary focus of U.S. food aid programs the feeding of hungry people by the most effective and efficient means available and building long-term food security.
Calls completed by: C.O.B. Monday, November 5.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Farm Bill to Full Senate week of 11/5...get moving!

According to my sources in Bread for the World the Farm Bill will move to the full Senate floor sometime the week of Nov. 5th - so get ready to get hit up to make some phone calls and spread the word on what people can do to make sure poor and hungry people are best served by the legislation!

Action for IL residents: Call or write Durbin _quickly_ and tell him we appreciate his past support on reform and encourage him to keep it up. Call or write Obama with the same haste and remind him that we want subsidy reform, increased Food Stamp program support and increases support for rural development.