In this issue:
BUT FIRST, AN INVITATION TO YOU
Join monthly Food Justice conversations
You are invited to join a monthly, national conference call with a small number of Food Justice Fellows, VISTAs and Presbyterians and others eager to figure out how to spread justice throughout our food system.
Calls for food justice and food sovereignty are echoing around the world. From landless farmers in Brazil to seed savers in India, from urban farms in Oakland to affordable Fresh Stop local produce buying clubs in Louisville, from agroecological farms around Lake Victoria in Kenya to farmer-owned cooperatives in Wisconsin, the sprouting of sustainable and just food systems is as sure as spring rains.
Because eating is a moral and biblical act, dozens (hundreds?) of PC(USA) congregations are joining the movement―opening their kitchens, digging food gardens, hosting farmers markets, and advocating for fair food policies. You will join with Food Justice Fellows (comprised of pastors, urban agriculturalists, grassroots activists and students) who began the Fellowship last year and are joined by new Fellows this year. We are also hosting four Anti-Hunger Empowerment Corps VISTAs who are supporting community groups and congregations in their efforts to bring food justice to neglected parts of of our cities and states. The calls will be facilitated by the Presbyterian Hunger Program.
Join us to to pose challenges you face and to share ideas about ways you, your congregation and your community can address inequities in your local food economy and around the world. And, to get to know each other ...
Mark your calendar: second Thursday of each month at 4-5 p.m. (eastern time). Send an email to RSVP and receive the call-in numbers.
PLUS A QUICK UPDATE ON OCCUPY
The 99% Spring: what’s up with Occupy?
As the weather warms and spring showers fall, there has been increasing activity from Occupy activists and supporters about Occupying the Food Supply, Occupy Farm and growing food everywhere. Taking back control of the food system is a widely held sentiment and groups are developing locally flavored food and farm initiatives. Also growing out of the Occupy Movement and to some extent led by National People’s Action based in Chicago, activists are planning the 99% Spring. The movement’s main focus is to challenge and reduce the power of corporations over people’s lives. Associated with the 99% Spring is an additional effort, Confront Corporate Power that mirrors the goals and strategy of the 99% Spring. The full list of supporting organizations does not include any faith-based organizations. (Download the latest PHP Post, which focused on corporations)
Multiple events are planned, and more than 900 trainings were held in 48 states in mid-April where over 100,000 people were to be trained in nonviolent direct action. The trained peope will then engage in a series of actions, called "Shareholder's Spring,” to disrupt shareholder meetings at 40 corporations including Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Exxon Mobil, Chevron, and other leading multinationals plus Sallie Mae and other corporations that have profited off the student debt crisis. The biggest action is planned for the Bank of America meeting in Charlotte, N.C., a month before the Democratic National Convention starts there.
Organizers are planning a general strike for May 1 (International Labor Day, a commemoration that originated in the United States, even if few people still observe it here).
AND NOW FOR THE MAIN EVENT ..
What the Farm Bill is (in a very tiny nutshell)
The Farm Bill is the primary piece of legislation that determines our nation’s food and agriculture policy. The 15 Farm Bill titles address important issues including supplemental nutrition assistance programs (SNAP, formally called food stamps), farm, trade, conservation, rural development, research, and food safety programs. To help solve our nation’s many health, social, economic and environmental challenges, we need a just and sustainable food system that addresses the goals of hunger and disease reduction, local and family farm viability, food affordability and accessibility, environmental protection, proper land use, resilience, and social justice. Sound agricultural policies in the United States can also help address hunger and poverty overseas. (See “Interfaith Coalition – including the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) – Calls on DC Lawmakers to Reform Food Aid Policies”)
A) Here is a video of Michael Pollan explaining the Farm Bill in 1 minute 39 seconds flat!
B) For those that love numbers, the Center for a Livable Future at Johns Hopkins has created a great Farm Bill Budget Visualizer. (Hint: box size is related to budget amount)
C) Farm Bill Primer. A great site for learning about the Farm Bill from IATP.
* The graphic below provides a visual of how the bulk of Farm Bill $ is used.
Principles for a faithful Farm Bill
From God’s initial command to care for creation to the prophets’ call for justice among governments and nations, people of faith in every age are called together to work for the common good. Inspired by our faith traditions’ commands to care for poor and vulnerable people, we join together to support policies that promote local food security in the United States and around the world, strengthen rural communities, and care for the land as God’s creation.
Our nation’s food and farm policies as embodied in the Farm Bill impact people and communities from rural America to developing countries. In the current budget climate, the Farm Bill’s limited resources must be effectively targeted where need is greatest. Programs and policies that curb hunger and malnutrition, support vibrant agricultural economies in rural communities, and promote the sustainable use of natural resources must be prioritized.
Together, we will urge Congress to take the opportunity presented by the reauthorization of the Farm Bill to reduce hunger and poverty in the United States and around the world and encourage sustainable stewardship of our resources. To this end, we support the following principles for the 2012 Farm Bill:
Protect and strengthen programs that reduce hunger and improve nutrition in the United States.
Promote investments and policies that strengthen rural communities and combat rural poverty.
Provide a fair and effective farmer safety net that allows farmers in the U.S. and around the world to earn economically sustainable livelihoods.
Strengthen policies and programs that promote conservation and protect creation from environmental degradation.
Protect the dignity, health, and safety, of those responsible for working the land.
Promote research related to alternative, clean, and renewable forms of energy that do not negatively impact food prices or the environment.
Safeguard and improve international food aid in ways that encourage local food security and improve the nutritional quality of food aid.
~ From the Interfaith Working Group on Global Hunger & Food Security
Farm Bill 2012: ‘It’s a mess, but it’s our mess'
“… the Farm Bill is a really great privilege and opportunity. It’s our chance as a democracy to try to make things better in the food system — to help people get something to eat, to help farmers get through the season, and to try to help protect the land and the resource base.
So even though it’s a mess, it’s our mess. And if we really want to right the food system, it’s just one of those crucial intervention points that we all have to take part in somehow. …”
Presbyterians have a long history of speaking truth to power!
Here is one critically important act you can take today:
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has signed a letter to protect programs for the most vulnerable family farmers, but your individual voice is needed! Simply contact your two Senators. Ask for them by name or state by calling the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121.Tell them that the 2501 Outreach and Technical Assistance Program needs to be included in the Senate Agricultural Committee’s Farm Bill draft. This program increases economic opportunities for family fishermen, farmers and ranchers, specifically socially disadvantaged, beginning and limited resource farmers and ranchers, farmworkers, Indian Tribes and rural communities, while protecting the environment and ensuring proper nutrition for all families and communities. That’s all you need to know. (More information is available here)
Three simple ways to engage in the Farm Bill debate
1. JOIN THE CONVERSATION: Submit written comments to Congress about the 2012 Farm Bill using the House Agriculture Committee Farm Bill Feedback Form
2. ENGAGE YOUR LEGISLATORS: Call your legislators and ask them to co-sponsorBeginning Farmers and Rancher Opportunity Act and the Local Farms, Food and Jobs Act! Go to the PC(USA) Office of Public Witness to compose your email to Congress.
3. GROW THE MOVEMENT: Share this E-News with your friends and family and ask them to raise their voice for a just and sustainable food and farm bill! Folks can sign up for the monthly Food Justice E-News here.
Blessings of Spring!
Andrew & the Presbyterian Hunger Program
P.S. If you aren’t a fan of weed killers that do damage to God’s Creation, you may also wish to weigh in on a brand new pesticide for which Monsanto and Dow want approval. Here is a letter from our friends at Pesticides Action Network that you can sign on to asking the USDA to deny approval.
Please consider making a gift to the Presbyterian Hunger Fund. Together we can end hunger!
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