Saturday, June 23, 2007

Hunger and Injustice

A Guest Post,
by "Flatulence"

This summer the Congress considers reauthorization of the “Farm Bill.” This legislation is the umbrella that shapes rural policies to a very large degree and provides for Food Stamps as well. Parts of the Farm Bill are essentially American policy about hunger. Some important facts from the ”Hunger in America 2006” study:
  • Food Banks served approximately 25 million people in 2006
  • In any given week, 4.5 million people receive emergency food assistance
  • On average, about 36% of those people are children
It is bad enough that McDonald’s, Burger King and Yum! Brands are attempting to influence this bill such that they receive what they perceive as more favorable economic conditions. Big AgriBusiness does well too, and the family farmer? Not so well. Maddeningly in the most productive farming country on the planet, 4.5 million this week will seek emergency food aid from a food bank or pantry. In Lincoln Nebraska, the food bank there distributed over 2.6 million pounds of food in 2005. Lincoln Nebraska, right smack in the heart of farm country, and 2.6 million pounds of food.

There are many talented and caring people who are pushing back against the corporate lobbyist efforts, making entirely sound moral arguments to the Senators and Representatives. There’s some real progress being made. There’s a sense of progressiveness that the Congressional leadership is listening, and some headway is being made. The shame of it is this: as a people, we probably can make Congress deliver a reasonable bill. The problem is that it will be accompanied by a “signing statement” much like this one regarding the 2003 Omnibus Spending Bill:

The bill also includes $3.3 billion in unrequested drought and other assistance, which is only minimally offset by real reductions in existing farm spending. Ninety-five percent of purported savings are scheduled to come several years from now, after the expiration of todays farm bill, and may prove illusory. That’s Bush code-speak for “I will direct the USDA to spend this money or not spend it, however I see fit.” You can thank the author – Alberto Gonzales.

This administration prattles endlessly about “Homeland;” they have entirely dismissed the “Heartland” and continue to perpetuate the injustice of hunger, with more injustice.

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Flat lives in Denver and is a helluva good guy.

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