Saturday, December 8, 2007

Farm Bill vote next week

It appears as though the Senate may move on the Farm Bill again next week. It seems like we just had a call-in, but things are not looking up with all this stalling in the Senate. Consider this quote from the New York Times today: "As it has pressed to keep its subsidies, about $26 billion in the current bill, agribusiness has contributed $415 million to federal political campaigns since 1990, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The hungry don’t have much of a lobby." WE are the lobby for the hungry. We don't have millions of dollars at our disposal, but Bread for the World and its partners strive to influence change using tools we have abundantly: faith and voice. Please exercise your faith and voice now.

And if you spend 10 minutes making your 2 calls to your senators and want to do more, visit and write a letter to the editor. Right now, the best way to get more senators to vote for reform amendments is by writing letters to the editor in local papers. Because they are read by thousands of voters, letters to the editor get the attention of decision-makers in a forceful way. If you are in my area, know that the Pioneer Press is likely to print almost everything they get (as long as it's logical and fairly concise). If you're extra ambitious, write a letter to the NY Times in response to the article I cited:

Here's the Bread for the World info for calling in...

The Senate votes on the farm bill this week, one of the most vital pieces of legislation for struggling farmers and hungry people in our country and around the world. By asking our senators for farm bill reform, we can help improve people’s lives and, in so doing, prepare a path for justice.

Call the Capitol using Bread for the World’s toll-free number

Call your senators on Mon., Dec. 10, and ask them to support:
• The FRESH Amendment; (aka the Lugar-Lautenberg Ammendment)
• The Dorgan-Grassley Amendment
• The Brown-Sununu Amendment
The Menendez Ammendment; and
• Any other amendments that help make our commodity payments fairer for all farmers and provide additional funding for the Food Stamp Program.

Schakowsky's response to my MDG letter

At last month's "Social Justice for Social Mom's" meeting, we focused on writing to our members of congress to support the Millennium Development Goals by increasing the amount of development assistance next year. (FYI, this will be the main thrust of next year's Offering of Letters) This was Rep Jan Schakowsky's response:

"Thank you for contacting me to urge my support for increased funding for poverty-focused development assistance in the Fiscal Year 2008 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill. I appreciate hearing from you, and I agree with you.

I have contacted my colleagues on the State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee to express my support for a $2 billion increase in the Development Assistance Account and the Millennium Challenge Account. As the richest country in the world, I believe the US has a special obligation to fight poverty and global pandemics abroad. The US spends less than one half of 1% of its budget on foreign aid. We can do a lot more. I cosponsored H.R. 1302, the Global Poverty Act of 2007, which passed the House on September 26, 2007. The Global Poverty Act mandates that the President and the Secretary of State develop and implement a plan to further the United States' commitment to achieving the Millennium Development Goals and to cut international poverty in half by 2015. I will continue to push initiatives to end poverty throughout my time in Congress.

Again, thank you for contacting me on this important issue. Please let me know if I can be of assistance in the future.

Jan Schakowsky"

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Sustainability can help reduce poverty

While we're waiting for more Farm Bill news from the Senate, here's a diversion from It combines two of my favorite things (right up there with raindrops on roses): poverty reduction and sustainability.

"The Nature Conservancy released a study today about poverty reduction and conservation. Researchers interviewed over 1,000 people from 3 different countries about the impact of marine protected areas on quality of life and income. Some villagers saw their income double as a result of conservation efforts. This is a great example of countries who are working to achieve Millennium Development Goal #7 - ensure environmental sustainability. "

How Marine Protected Areas Help Alleviate Poverty (a site containing a preview of a longer 15 min video)