Saturday, November 10, 2007

Farm Bill update/Live Blog from CFRA covers debate

The Senate still has not made much progress in the Farm Bill debate. They had to do things like approve Mukasey as the attorney gen and talk about things like sheep vaccine and toys from China. But when they do get back to business, the Dorgan-Grassley ammendment should be one of the first things they discuss. It would put a $250,000 cap on the payments any one farmer can receive in a year. This would free roughly $1 billion for other purposes (like food stamps and conservation) and slow the consolidation of farms in the Midwest.

If you'd like entertaining, frequent updates about the Farm Bill debate, visit Blog for Rural America ( a couple of people are watching the Senate feed live and summarizing for us. It seems that in 2002, debate lasted 4 weeks, so hang on! This could take a while!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Bread for the World mentioned in Wash Post Editorial

The Wash post ran an op-ed on 11/7 explaining why our cotton subsidies hurt West African farmers. Bread for the World gets a nice mention. Here's the link:

I'm a donor (lender) now!

I'm very excited to say that I have officially become a lender on now. allows individuals to make $25 loans to low-income entrepreneurs in the developing world (microfinance). By doing so, individuals like you and I provide affordable working capital for the poor (money to buy a sewing machine, livestock, etc.), empowering them to earn their way out of poverty. It's a new, direct and sustainable way to fight global poverty.

Here's a great 15 min video about how Kiva works. It's from PBS' Frontline. Please check it out!

I lent my first $25 to Marta Angelo Buque. She's supposed to pay it back in 3 months. Kiva has never had a defaulted loan, so it's a great track record. This is Marta's bio:
Marta is a single mother of 2. She lives alone with her children and she runs a fish selling business. Her husband abandoned her. Martha entered the program in 2005 as a member of a group. Meanwhile the group has disbanded and she has decided to take out a loan on her own. She has many customers. If the business continues to do well, she plans to build a better house. Marta’s children are still too young to attend school. She plans to register them as soon as they are old enough.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Michael Pollan gets an LTE from me (if the NYTimes would print it)

Michael Pollan wrote another stellar article about the state of the Farm Bill and why it affects every single American. Man, I love that guy! Here's the link...
Yet there was one part that I had trouble with: "And then the farm lobby did what it has always done: bought off its critics with “programs.” For that reason “Americans who eat” can expect some nutritious crumbs from the farm bill, just enough to ensure that reform-minded legislators will hold their noses and support it. It’s an old story: the “hunger lobby” gets its food stamps so long as the farm lobby can have its subsidies. " Hey now! Mr Pollan, you are the Dude, but let's not be hasty. I don't have a direct Pollan hot-line to talk to him, but I am a media activist. So here's my letter-to-the-editor for him, though it may never be printed:
Michael Pollan is a hero of mine. He gave us another splendid piece in “Weed it and Reap” on 11/4. However, I take issue with his insinuation that the “hunger lobby” was bought off by food stamp funding. As an active member of an anti-poverty advocacy group, I do not feel in any way satisfied with the current state of Farm Bill negotiations. ‘Irritated,’ ‘dismayed,’ ‘angered,’ or ‘betrayed’ could all accurately describe how I personally feel about it. Even if many democratic representatives were bought off, the grassroots hunger lobby wasn’t. Bread for the World sent out a call to action last week for members to urge their senators to support the Lugar/Lautenberg and Grassley/Dorgan amendments, the same amendments Pollan cites as opportunities for improvement. We stand together on this, Mr. Pollan. We are for eating and eating well.