WASHINGTON—The 2013 Farm Bill is an opportunity to address outdated agriculture policies and help hungry people at home and abroad, said leaders of four Catholic organizations in May 9 letters. The letters went to leadership of the Agriculture committees of both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.
"This is a crucial time to build a more just framework that puts poor and hungry people first, serves small and moderate-sized family farms, promotes sustainable stewardship of the land and helps vulnerable farmers and rural communities both at home and in developing countries," wrote Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, California, Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, Father Larry Snyder, president of Catholic Charities USA, Carolyn Woo, Ph.D., president of Catholic Relief Services, and James Ennis, executive director of the National Catholic Rural Life Conference.
Bishop Blaire and Bishop Pates chair the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committees on Domestic Justice and Human Development and International Justice and Peace, respectively.
The letters outlined five priorities for the Farm Bill:
Support for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly known as food stamps, and other programs that help hungry people.
Protection of funding for international emergency assistance and food security development projects.
Subsidies for farmers who truly need assistance and who comply with environmentally sound and sustainable farming practices.
Promotion of programs for farmers to help conserve water, energy, soil and wildlife habitats.
Support for programs that help the development of urban communities.
The full text of the Senate letter is available online: www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/agriculture-nutrition-rural-issues/upload/Joint-Senate-Farm-Bill-Principles-and-Priorties-Ltr-2013-05-09.pdf
USCCB and the National Catholic Rural Life Conference also signed onto a May 6 letter, urging Congress to resist proposals that would weaken the SNAP program:http://frac.org/pdf/national_org_snap_support_letter.pdf