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  • Subject: [cg] Farm Bill Forums: MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD!!
  • From: "Rodger Cooley" Rodger.Cooley@heifer.org
  • Date: Tue, 25 Oct 2005 16:52:35 -0500
  • Content-class: urn:content-classes:message
  • Thread-index: AcXZrmiKJO8gdDGuTRueQjDDW6FYcQ==
  • Thread-topic: Farm Bill Forums: MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD!!

Make your Voice Heard!


October 18 - November 16

The US Department of Agriculture is continuing to hold Farm Bill
listening sessions to gather inputs for the next US Farm Bill which will
define farm and food program priorities of the nation for the next five
years, or until 2012.

If you live in or near the following communities, and have views about
food access for urban and rural low income communities, about the future
of small, medium and family scale agriculture, or about what role the US
government should take to address hunger, food insecurity and farm
decline in the US, MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD! For more information or to
write comments, visit:



Schedule and location of sessions: Note that sessions focused on
nutrition programs are those highlighted in bold below. But bring your
voices to the session near you whether you are concerned about the
plight of the nation's food system, agricultural sustainabillity, food
security or farm viability.

October 18,  Moultrie, GA (USDA Secretary Johanns) October 18,  Detroit,
MI (FNCS Under Secretary Kate Coler) October 19,  Greensboro, NC (Deputy
Under Secretary Chuck Conner) October 19,  Miami, FL (FNCS Under
Secretary Eric Bost) October 24,  Greeley, CO (USDA Secretary Johanns)
October 25,  Manchester, NH (Rural Development Under Secretary Tom Dorr)
October 25,  Portland, OR (FNCS Under Secretary Eric Bost) October 26,
South Burlington, VT (Rural Development Under Sec. Tom


October 28,  Boston, MA (FNCS Under Secretary Eric Bost) November 2,
Atlanta, GA (FNCS Under Secretary Eric Bost) November 12, Kona HI (Under
Secretary Dorr and Deputy Under Sec.


November 16, New Brunswick, NJ (Rural Development Under Secretary Tom


Recently the Community Food Security Coalition held its annual
conference in Atlanta Georgia. In Farm Bill listening sessions from
October 6-9 many views and concerns were raised about the future of food
and farm policy in the US. CFSC staff have prepared a selection of what
was heard there and what you can add to from your own experiences.

A more complete record of the listening sessions will be posted soon
with commentary on www.foodsecurity.org.

Healthy Food and Healthy Communities are closely related:

Especially in low income rural and urban communities, the lack of access
to affordable and good quality fresh fruits, vegetables and meat
products is closely related to poverty and to the incidence of
nutritional disease, hunger and food insecurity.

Hunger and poverty can be eradicated in America. The role of government
policy is vital. Existing nutrition programs provide a safety net for
nearly 35 million citizens, 13 million of which are children. These
programs, including food stamps and child nutrition programs, are
vitally necessary for millions of Americans who do not earn enough to
cover the combined costs of housing, healthcare, heating, fuel,
transportation and food.

The food safety net for vulnerable citizens is at risk today as Congress
threatens to cut nutrition and poverty programs -- while lavishing tax
dollars on war, wealthy families and corporations. Policy priorities are
misplaced in other important ways: Fifteen percent of the nation's
largest farms receive 85% of government support for agricultural
production, driving prices down and leaving a majority of producers with
little access to conventional wholesale and retail markets.

CFSC joins and supports anti-hunger and nutrition advocates fighting to
keep and improve the nutrition safety net of the nation. Meanwhile, new
policy and programs are needed to link vulnerable producers and
vulnerable consumers in communities from coast-to-coast. The food system
of the US is vulnerable to shifts in the cost of energy, to natural
disaster and other threats made painfully evident in the wake of recent

New policy tools are needed to benefit both vulnerable urban and rural
populations. Innovations at local and state levels such as the rise of
farmers markets, food banks sourcing from local farms, farm to school
programs, community food projects and increasing procurement of local
food by institutions benefit BOTH farmers and consumers. Win-win
programs need win-win policy to grow and become a foundation for a new,
more equitable food system.

The food system starts with gardens in communities across the country,
and the survival of small and medium scale diverse farming systems is
essential to food and homeland security. Farmworkers, minority and
limited resource farmers, new immigrant farmers, and independent family
farms are still the best guarantee of national food security in the face
of threats to transcontinental and international food supply chains in
an uncertain future.

Initial Farm Bill Priorities Identified by CFSC members:

Policy in the next Farm Bill should protect nutrition and farm programs
where they work for the most vulnerable producers and consumers, but new
initiatives for an integrated farm and food policy are vital as well.

America needs policy tools that:

Protect and enhance nutrition safety nets for vulnerable consumers while
expanding community based food programs linking agriculture to local and
regional markets.

Reverse policy incentives driving unsustainable production of surplus
commodities to low prices that in turn keep small and medium scale
farmers from the marketplace.

Create community development and job programs that integrate community
food security, including local agriculture (from gardens to farms) with
emergency food assistance.

invest in new food distribution, processing and retail infrastructure
for small and medium scale producers.

Promote purchase of local foods wherever practicable by institutional
food service and retail stores to promote food and homeland security.

Develop local and regional food security reserves to provide emergency
food assistance and institutional markets such as schools, hospitals and

Ensure fair wages, prices and access to government resources for limited
resource and minority farmers, farm workers, and all other vulnerable
food workers.

A few of precedents for such policy exist and should be supported in the
next Farm Bill. Examples of such policy are:

o     Assistance to Community Food Projects

o     WIC and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Programs

o     EBT programs for use of Food Stamps to purchase local foods

o     Community Food Nutrition Program

o     Infrastructure improvement and development for local and regional

supply      of staple food products

o     Farm to Cafeteria Programs to benefit both children's health and

farming           communities

o     Outreach and Technical Assistance Programs for limited resource

            minority farmers

o     Support for effective community food security strategies through

resource    centers/learning tools to spread innovation and best


o     Technical Assitance Programs for food policy councils and food

            networks at local and state levels

o     Beginning Farmer, New Immigrant Farmer, Value Added Producer

            and research support for innovation in the food system
linking food

insecure    consumers and vulnerable producers

o     Wellness policies and farmworker and food worker health protection

o     Ending government support for foods of low nutritional value in

schools,          hospitals and other institutions

o     Limits on advertisement of foods with low nutritional value and

increasing        support for advertising foods of high nutritional

available directly from       farms in all regions of the US

While not exhaustive and only a beginning, these are a few of the policy
targets and priorities that emerged in Atlanta from a community food
security perspective. Please feel free to use your own experience of
problems and solutions at the community level or in your state that
deserve federal support in the next Farm Bill.

The Community Food Security Coalition is working alongside other
sustainable agriculture, conservation, nutrition and anti-hunger
partners to develop a comprehensive farm and food policy blueprint for
the 2007 Farm Bill. For more information, contact steph@foodsecurity.org
or call 202-543-8602.

Rodger Cooley

Midwest Program Manager- Heifer International

3944 W. Irving Park

Chicago, IL 60618

phone - 773/279-9696

fax - 773-279-9032

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