Oppose Drastic Cuts to Hunger Programs – Take Action!
The House is expected to begin voting on the 2013 Farm Bill this week. That’s why I’m asking you to contact your Congressional representative and urge him/her to support a fair Farm Bill and related amendments that help feed hungry people, promote growth in U.S. rural communities, and encourage stewardship of the land and our resources.
The National Council of the U.S. Society of St. Vincent de Paul has joined the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), Catholic Relief Services, and the National Catholic Rural Life Conference to urge the House to support a Farm Bill and amendments that prioritize:
- Domestic Hunger and Nutrition: The House bill includes more than $20 billion in cuts to SNAP. These cuts should be rejected, including provisions banning certain groups of people from SNAP (food stamps). With continued high unemployment, Congress should support access to adequate and nutritious food for those in need and oppose attempts to weaken or restructure programs such as SNAP.
- Farm Subsidies: It’s important to continue reasonable support for our commodity and dairy farmers. Given current high commodity prices and federal budget constraints, however, agricultural subsidies and direct payments can be reduced overall and targeted to small and moderate-sized farms, especially minority-owned farms. The House should support a cap on subsidies for crop insurance premiums to benefit small-to-medium-sized farmers rather than support wealthier and larger producers. Government resources should assist those who truly need assistance and support those who comply with environmentally sound and sustainable farming practices.
- Conservation and Stewardship: Support full funding for conservation initiatives that promote stewardship of the land and environmentally sound agricultural practices. These programs provide technical assistance and financial incentives for farmers and ranchers to adopt practices aimed at fostering healthy, productive and non-eroding soils, clean air and water, energy savings and wildlife habitats.
- Rural Development: Rural communities and small towns are the backbone of the social and economic life of America. Effective policies and programs are needed to encourage rural development and promote the culture and well-being of these communities.
Here’s the current situation: The Senate passed its version of the Farm Bill on June 10 and it included cuts of more than $4 billion to SNAP and nearly $6 billion to conservation programs over 10 years. The Senate bill also maintained the current structure for international food aid and development programs. Some improvements were made in the Senate bill, such as ending of direct payments and a cap on crop insurance subsidy premiums for farmers earning more than $750,000.
Now, the House is expected to take up the bill passed by the House Agriculture Committee and related amendments this week. The House plan proposes reducing agriculture funding over 10 years by close to $40 billion. This includes adramatic cut of more than $20 billion to SNAP and more than $5 billion in cuts to conservation programs.
The House proposal also calls for ending some subsidies (direct payments) and this is a step in the right direction, but the Catholic community urges further reductions and targeting of subsidies as described above.
Please click on the ‘Take Action’ link to send an email to your Congressional representative.
Yours in St. Vincent and Blessed Frédéric,
National Council of the U.S. Society of St. Vincent de Paul