Farm policy to heal nationsBy Jesse Epp-Fransen
This past summer I volunteered at a small organic farm where I saw firsthand the power of creation to grow and bring forth foods that nourish our bodies.
I learned the joy of walking barefoot through freshly tilled soil. I experienced the joy of looking at a field full of squash, kale, summer savory, tomatoes, peas and basil.
My time on the farm showed me some of the ways God works through agriculture for the healing of creation.
As a society we are seeing the consequences of our economic choices and national priorities. Unemployment, lack of access to health care and an increase in child homelessness have all reached saddening levels — even while Washington lawmakers move to cut safety-net programs and reassert the economic principles that created these situations.
Government programs that help feed vulnerable people have seen increased demand during the recession. It has gotten more difficult for people to put nutritious food on the table.
We must address issues associated with the economic inequality we have created. We need to look again at our basic understanding of society and government.
We can see now the devastating effects of choices such as deregulation of the housing market. We can see the economic dangers of farm policies that put cheap calories before nutrients. We can see the consequences of a health insurance system that puts education, preventive care and early treatment out of the reach of many of the most vulnerable.
The 2008 farm bill is expiring and will need to be reauthorized this year. This is a chance to put the focus of farm policy back where it belongs, on supporting farmers to produce the food we all need for healthy bodies and healthy lives.
This, too, is an opportunity to address global injustices such as government-subsidized crops that are undercutting producers in developing nations and increasing hunger worldwide.
According to the 2012 Hunger Report by Bread for the World, the largest 10 percent of farms received 76 percent of the $262 billion in U.S. federal government support over the last decade and a half. Bread for the World recommends farm subsidies be changed to support small- and medium-scale agriculture for local markets, while supporting sustainable development internationally.
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