Thursday, May 1, 2008

Farm Bill Update

From Bread for the World...a Farm Bill update as of April 25. Sorry I'm a bit late in posting it here!
Bread for the World Celebrates Half a Victory as Farm Bill Deal Seems Imminent

The following is a statement from the Rev. David Beckmann, president, Bread for the World, regarding the tentative deal reached this afternoon by Congressional negotiators on the multibillion-dollar Farm Bill:

“Congress is very close to finishing its marathon negotiations on the Farm Bill. We do not yet have the details, and there will probably be some last-minute wrangling over the weekend and next week.

“But Bread for the World is celebrating because Congress has, by all accounts, substantially increased funding for food assistance to hungry people. This is the right thing to do, especially now that hunger and poverty are on the increase. Poor families in this country are facing higher food and fuel prices, higher unemployment, and more restricted access to credit. The increase in world hunger is even more dramatic.

“It would have been wrong to continue past policies at a time when the need for food assistance is acute.

“Reportedly, the new Farm Bill also increases farm subsidies, despite record commodity prices and farm income. Congress has added a whole new subsidy program, a permanent disaster fund, even while they are modestly trimming some ongoing subsidy programs. Bread for the World wanted money shifted from subsidies to affluent landowners into investments that would benefit farm and rural families who really need help. That same shift would reduce the extent to which U.S. farm policies interfere with agriculture in Africa and other poor parts of the world.

“So if Congress and the President finalize the deal that was negotiated today, it will be a half victory for Bread for the World and the other reform groups – more help for hungry people, but no significant reform yet in the subsidy programs.

“The organizations that lobby for big farm subsidies spent $80 million lobbying Congress last year, according to the Wall Street Journal. For the church, environmental, and taxpayer groups who are seeking reform, half a victory is indeed cause for celebration.”

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