Monday, July 16, 2007

Bread Dollars

Bread Labor

Did you know that 80 percent of U.S. consumers would prefer to support sustainable farming? But their tax dollars actually work against the small farms that are more likely to use such techniques? So says Steven L. Hopp, in a sidebar in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.

Why the incongruence?

It’s due to the Farm Bill, which subsidizes based on volume and crop type…which means that three-quarters of subsidies go to 10 percent of growers (the industrial-scale ones), effectively supporting soy and corn crops and making it hard for small farms to stay viable (including farms in poor countries across the globe...believe it or not, our policies influence "plenty or want" for vulnerable people beyond our borders).

To learn more, we can go to farmaid.org

Or, like the Christian organization Bread for the World is currently requesting, we can call our representatives and senators BY JULY 17, to have a say in how the new Farm Bill is settled.

What to say when we get our senator’s staff on the line? Something like…

- reform commodity policies that hurt small farmers in the U.S. and abroad
- invest in rural development

I figured it was worth bringing this up, since 80 percent of you might believe that sustainable farming is critical. And maybe 67.3 percent of you (that’s my hopeful number) might call your representative and senators today.

(Help me out, Lynet. How many people would that be?)

How to Find Your Senators and Representatives

To call about the Farm Bill, dial 1-800-826-3688. Connects you to Capitol switchboard. Ask for your representative's office to leave a message with his/her staff. Call your senators too.

OR, write a letter on-line to your local newspaper through the One Campaign: Make Poverty History. The site will send your letter (they provide a sample you can use) to any paper you click on (your local papers can be found by inserting your zip code).


Bread photo by L.L. Barkat.

Seedlings Invitation: If you write a post related to this post and Link It Back Here, let me know and I'll link to yours.

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15 Comments:

Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Okay, so I tried it myself. I called my representative and my two senators. To my surprise, I got real people on the line. Very nice people.

I wish I'd known I wasn't going to get an answering machine. I had this nice little speech I'd worked up, with all the important points.

Anyway, I found myself saying simply, "I hear that the Farm Bill is coming up for discussion soon. I wanted to encourage [so and so] to help develop a fairer bill with an eye towards small farmers and investment in rural development."

That was it. One young woman asked my name and address, in case I wanted any follow up. I declined because I don't like being on lists. But I told her I look forward to hearing the public info about how this all was handled.

11:39 AM  
Blogger D. Gudger said...

Thanks for the info! My husband and I decided to cut down on as much processed food as possible and eat fresh and organic. I try to buy local stuff as much as possible when I'm at Whole Foods.

The whole China thing (poisonous ingredients in processed foods) drives the point home.

I've been growing tomatoes for a few years on my patio and branched out to try a few more veggies. Who knew zuchinni plants grew so big?

Colorado is a tough place to garden - dry and a very short growing season. Next year I'll have a bigger garden.

I'll also try that 1-800 number and advocate for small local farmers!

Thanks!

12:08 PM  
Blogger Llama Momma said...

Thank you for bringing this up!

Another important way to be involved is to support any local farms in your community. Join a CSA and let your dollars talk! I was too late signing up this year and every slot was taken...what does that say?

Visit the farmer's market, if you've got one, and talk to the people growing your food. Spend your money there...even if it's a liittle bit more expensive. My children don't like all veggies from the store, but they put "farmer grown" veggies in a different category. Twin A. started talking to another kid at the farmer's market on Saturday, and the kid was telling his mom he hated peppers. Twin A -- who does not like peppers from the regular store -- piped up and said, "Oh, you've GOTTA try these. These farmers grow the best peppers. They're sweet, like candy. I'm dead serious."

We vote with our voices and our dollars.

12:34 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

D. .... welcome to Seedlings! Nice to have you stop by. You bring up the interesting point about food security, which even goes beyond the poisonous ingredients question and is influenced by practices of mono-cropping (think Irish potato famine, caused by mono-cropping of potatoes, one type in particular, as mandated by England at the time).

When we legislate an environment that supports mono-cropping then, we reduce crop diversity and promote food security problems.

Oh, zucchini. Well, now you know! :)


Llama... great story about the twins. Reminds me of my "Formerly Known as Delicious" post over on Green Inventions!

You bring up an excellent point about the impact of our everyday voice through our dollars. Thanks on that! I wonder what the equivalent strategy could be, to support the world's poor farmers globally? I'm not sure that fair-trade organic purchase is as weighty as a change in U.S. farm policy. But it probably plays a small part.

In any case, I realize while I write this that the whole issue goes even beyond food security (see comment above) and extends to national security. Vulnerable economies, poverty, and hunger across the globe, exacerbated by our very own Farm Bill policies, surely play into the whole U.S. national security dilemma.

1:18 PM  
Blogger angela said...

THANK YOU for this information. I had no idea this was up for discussion. I am going to call right now. And thanks for thinking of me. Have a lovely day.

1:18 PM  
Blogger Zayannee said...

Hello,
I saw your concern with the Farm bill on another blog so I decided to visit yours! Just so you know on my blog I have a direct link that basically writes a letter to your local news paper informing your area of the farm bill. My family are small time farmers and its really important to me to support them and say boo to big time huge production farmers.

Also if it makes a difference to anyone, did you know that cows digestive systems are not made to digest the feed they are given to fatten them? it causes sickness and bad meat... when you pick it up from Wal-mart guess who else gets sick? Thats right you do! So support your local farmers because chances are those cows are put to pasture which = healthy happy cows!
http://onegreendream.blogspot.com

3:09 PM  
Blogger angela said...

Thanks, Zayannee & LL for sharing this information with us. This is why I love the internet!! -- Angela

4:49 PM  
Blogger Ted Gossard said...

I'll have to try to do that soon, L.L. A good cause indeed. Thanks for bringing this to our attention.

7:16 PM  
Blogger bluemountainmama said...

thanks for letting us know about this, l.l.

it's good to know a way to try to help on a broader scale than just buying local (which i try to do as much as possible).

i hope i'm not too late if i call tomorrow....i'll do it either way.

9:46 PM  
Blogger Lloyd Irving Bradbury said...

If we used the energy ans money ised on lawns to grow food or eveb flowers the subs would be a cetter place, i will try whast u suggest

10:14 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Angela... yes, isn't the Internet great for learning more about our interests, and actually taking steps to pursue them?

Zayannee... thanks for coming to Seedlings. So nice to have you here! I love the opportunity to hear from someone whose life is actually affected by this legislation. Sometimes I think we lose our compassion and will to act because we don't connect these things to a face, a group, a place.

Ted... no obligation of course. :) I just happen to be passionate about so many aspects of our food system. I have found it to be oddly connected to many issues of justice, even while it seems to be such a mundane part of life at first glance.

Blue... I don't think it ever hurts to let our representatives know what we actually think. I was thinking last night that if this seems foreign to us and intimidating, it is partly because we aren't taught to engage in this way (as if it were some "political" thing that we should shy away from). But really it's like putting one's voice to the family question of what's-for-dinner... on a larger scale of course.

Lloyd... it helps if one would simply eat the lawn one has. :) (No kidding, I eat various parts of mine. I consider it my free, God-given, God-tended garden.) See Green Inventions Central, where I celebrate these and other gifts of Creation (and sometimes show the free lunch I've found!)

6:08 AM  
Blogger Mark Goodyear said...

Posts like this always make me feel very lucky. I live in a rural community (granted, a largish rural community of 20,000).

Our farmers market is fantastic. Our local grocery chain stocks tons of organic. And my inlaws grow wonderful tomatoes. (No peppers, though, I'll have to get some candy sweet peppers, Llama.)

I tend to vote with my dollars as much as possible. But I have so few dollars, I doubt anyone is noticing.

8:46 AM  
Blogger Mark Goodyear said...

This whole discussion also reminds me of Wendell Berry's Mad Farmer poems.

You must at least go read The Mad Farmer Revolution.

8:49 AM  
Blogger bluemountainmama said...

i just called both our senator and representative and i got a live person, too. i had my shpeil all written out so i wouldn't fumble. :)

i also sent a "letter to the editor" to our paper through the ONE campaign.

thanks again for letting us know!

10:25 AM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Mark... Wow, that was one mad farmer! :) Thanks for the link.

Blue... How did it feel to do this? Curious. And I'm glad you pursued it, since I know these are deep concerns for you.

5:39 PM  

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