Sample Letter: Take Action on the Farm Bill
As you consider the 2012 Farm Bill, I urge you to support and strengthen programs that provide for poor and hungry people in the United States and around the world, offer effective assistance for those who grow our food, ensure fairness to family farmers and ranchers, and promote stewardship of the land.
I believe the poor and hungry should be given priority as we deal with the federal budget. Cuts to essential safety net programs will harm the most vulnerable children, seniors, people with disabilities and the unemployed. I also write as a supporter of the Catholics Confront Global Poverty initiative of Catholic Relief Services, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Catholic Charities USA, and the National Catholic Rural Life Conference. Those who struggle for food and survival, whether in the U.S. or overseas, have a moral claim on our nation’s resources. I believe that in the face of budgetary constraints, the 2012 Farm Bill is an opportunity to address our nation’s broken and outdated agricultural policies.
I urge you do everything in your power to strengthen the Senate’s 2012 Farm Bill by incorporating the following changes into the House Farm Bill:
- Preserve funding for the Food for Peace development “safe box” at the current $450 million authorized level rather than potentially slashing it to as little as $275 million annually. This program assists chronically hungry people overseas to produce more and better food for their families and end hunger.
- Fully fund essential conservation programs such as the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) and the Grassland Reserve Program (GRP) to promote stewardship of God’s creation;
- Maintain funding for the Value-Added Producer grants, the Rural Micro-Entrepreneur Assistance Program (RMAP), and ensure access to broad-band telecommunications services for rural communities; and
- Redirect subsidies to small and medium-sized farms, especially minority-owned farms and ranches that truly need assistance. The Senate proposal to reduce direct payments is a positive step in decreasing unneeded subsidies. Savings from reductions in subsidies and direct payments should be used to fund and support domestic nutrition programs such as SNAP (formerly Food Stamps) and international food assistance programs such as Title II.
I also urge you to ensure that the following provisions in the Senate 2012 Farm Bill are included in the House Farm Bill:
- Adequately fund and oppose cuts and weakening or restructuring of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) that would cut benefits to hungry and vulnerable people.
- Maintain funding for the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) and The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) so that people in need in the U.S. can obtain adequate and nutritious food;
- Maintain the $2.5 billion funding levels for the Food for Peace program that combats chronic hunger, builds resilience against natural disasters and provides nutritious foods to poor and malnourished families overseas; and
- Maintain flexibility in Food for Peace, support the increased cash resources and incorporation of Local and Regional Procurement as proposed in the Senate bill so that more hungry people can be reached.
The moral measure of our nation’s agriculture policies is how they serve “the least of these.” Thank you for your consideration of these policies and programs that save lives and improve nutrition, support family farmers and rural communities, and help preserve God’s creation.
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