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USCCB, other Catholic organizations: contact senators about farm bill

Catholic World News - May 20, 2013

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and three other Catholic organizations are asking Catholics to urge their senators “to support a Farm Bill that feeds hungry people, promotes stewardship of creation, supports small family farmers and helps rural America thrive.”

“The Senate will likely bring up the Farm Bill for debate and a vote as early as the week of May 20th!” states an action alert from the USCCB, Catholic Charities USA, Catholic Relief Services, and the National Catholic Rural Life Conference. “The Senate will vote on the bill passed by the Agriculture Committee and related amendments. Last year Congress chose to extend the current Farm Bill for one year but must now pass legislation before it expires at the end of September 2013.”

The action alert continues:

The Senate plan proposes reducing agriculture funding over 10 years by $23 billion. This includes over $4 billion in proposed cuts to the SNAP (food stamps) program and over $5 billion in cuts to conservation programs. At a time of continued unemployment and high levels of poverty, the Senate should oppose cuts to effective anti-hunger programs that help people live in dignity and strengthen and support programs that help conserve our land and resources for future generations.

The Senate’s proposal calls for ending some subsidies (direct payments) and this is a step in the right direction. The Catholic community urges further reductions in subsidies and additional reforms to crop insurance subsidies that would target them to small and medium-sized farmers and ranchers who truly need assistance, especially minority owned farms, and end assistance that is disproportionately given to larger growers and agribusinesses. Savings from cuts to subsidies should be used to support hunger and nutrition programs that feed hungry, poor and vulnerable people at home and abroad.

The bishops acknowledge that reducing future unsustainable deficits is important but remind Congress that their decisions are not just economic in nature but are “political and moral choices with human consequences.”

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