The Senate Agriculture Committee's version of the 2012 Farm Bill, "The Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012," is on the floor TODAY, June 7, and there's an opportunity to pass an amendment that would cut outrageous crop insurance subsidies, restore cuts to nutrition programs and redirect $500 million to healthy food programs.
Please take action today in support of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)'s effort to amend the bill to take money from rich agriculture corporations to feed hungry children.
The Farm Bill includes many important hunger-prevention and environmental conservation programs, but it is also packed with corporate welfare schemes that support filthy factory farms and pesticide-drenched genetically modified crops.
The Farm Bill is why junk food is cheap and consumers have to pay a premium for organic. It's why obesity, diet-related disease and health care costs are skyrocketing. It's why food production is responsible for a third of greenhouse gas emissions and farm run-off is fouling drinking water and creating dead-zones in the ocean. More than 70 of the nation's food and health leaders sent an open letter to Members of Congress this week, criticizing the bill's plan to give billions of taxpayer dollars in subsidies to corporate mega-farms while slashing food stamps and neglecting healthy food programs.
Robert B. Semple, Jr., writing in the New York Times, complained, "Every five years or so, Congress promises a new, improved farm bill that will end unnecessary subsidies to big farmers, enhance the environment and actually do something to help small farmers and small towns. But what it usually does is find ways of disguising the old inequities, sending taxpayers dollars to wealthy farmers, accelerating the expansion of industrial farming, inflating land prices and further depopulating rural America.
"The new five-year farm bill promises more of the same - excessively generous handouts, combined with a serious erosion of environmental protections."
According to Craig Cox of the Environmental Working Group, "A farm bill that cuts programs for the hungry and the environment to help finance a new entitlement program and unlimited insurance subsidies for the largest and most profitable farm operations should not be called a 'reform' bill."
The Washington Post summed it up this way: "[The Senate Agriculture Committee] voted to eliminate the wasteful "direct payments"subsidy program when the five-year farm bill expires at the end of September. But it offset much of the savings by expanding subsidies for federal crop insurance. Rife with opportunities for fraud and abuse, this program hurts small farmers and distributes resources upward in the income scale even when it works as designed."
Writing on the opinion page of the San Francisco Chronicle, Ken Cook, president, and Kari Hamerschlag, senior food and agriculture analyst, of the Environmental Working Group issued this call to action:
"[I]f eaters and taxpayers don't speak up, we'll get agribusiness as usual. On April 18, Republicans on the House Agriculture Committee voted to slash $33 billion from the food stamp program while leaving farm subsidies unscathed.
"The subsidy lobby is pushing a new $33 billion entitlement program to guarantee the income of profitable farm businesses. That's on top of $90 billion in subsidies for crop and revenue insurance policies.
"And after getting its grip on your money, for the next five years, the subsidy lobby will regretfully inform you that nothing is left to invest in healthier eating, hungry kids or clean water. They'd value nothing more than your silence in response."
Investing in organic creates jobs. According to the Organic Trade Association, organic farming creates 21 percent more jobs than industrial agriculture.
Please take action today!