Thurs. 4/26 – War on the Poor – Part 2 – Cutting their food…

The Farm Bill, H.R. 2, is a GOP trifecta. It hurts the poor, it helps big business and it harms the environment. 

#1 – It hurts the most vulnerable amongst us.

This guy looks like a dry speaker, but this video is pretty riveting.

We will be dealing with real hunger and the health and social issues that chronic malnutrition brings. The 2018 Farm Bill, HR2, cuts close to $20 billion from SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs). Close to two-thirds of SNAP participants are children, elderly, or disabled, while the remainder, mostly low-wage workers, are more likely than other workers to experience periods of unemployment or see their monthly earnings drop. Proposed changes enforcing stricter work requirements will be devastating to veterans, teenagers aging out of foster care, the chronically homeless and the mentally and physically disabled who will need to “prove” they are unable to work in order to eat. The work requirement age limit will also increase from 50 to 60, despite the AARP’s warning that this group has difficulty getting meaningful work. Those who violate the work requirements would become ineligible for SNAP benefits for a 1 year, with subsequent violations resulting in a 3-year loss of benefits. In addition, over a quarter million young children will lose their free school lunches. Anti-hunger groups and others say will lead to 1.6 million people losing the essential but extremely modest safety net that currently provides about $1.40 per person per meal. American citizens will be going hungry, in the richest nation in the world. (If you haven’t read it yet, take a moment to read the Poor People’s Campaign’s “Declaration of Fundamental Rights“.)

#2 – It hurts small farmers…

Roger Johnson, president of the Democratic-leaning National Farmers Union, said, “This bill is wholly inadequate for providing family farmers with the resources they need to endure the worst decline in the farm economy in decades. Congressional leadership’s directive to withhold any additional support has hamstrung the committee’s ability to address the six-year, 50 percent drop in net farm income. This bill lacks the improvements needed to provide sufficient farmer and consumer safety nets, it up-ends programs that improve sustainability, and it removes programs that aid the growth of fair and diverse markets for family farmers.” Of course, the traditional multi-billion-dollar programs for as federally subsidized crops such as corn, cotton, peanuts, rice, soybeans, and wheat remain intact. The bill also protects domestically produced sugar, amongst criticism from public health advocates who say that government subsidies, if they exist at all, should promote the most nutritious crops, such as vegetables and fruit.

#3 – It hurts our environment…yep, we’re dragging out this picture.

dust bowl

Because the Dust Bowl could happen again. The Ogallala aquifer that stretches from South Dakota to Texas, supplying approximately 30% of the nation’s irrigation water, is being drained by agribusiness eight times faster than it can be replenished by rain. What we’re waiting for is the next really long drought, increasingly likely with global warming. Therefore it makes perfect sense for the GOP’s Farm Bill to gut the Conservation Stewardship Program that help farmers implement practices that protect soil and water resources. The program also helps farmers defray costs for using practices like cover crops to keep soil and fertilizer in place over the winter; buffer strips that prevent severe soil erosion from storms; and hedgerows as habitat for wild bees and other beneficial insects. The already underfunded program could only accept 6,500 of the 19,000 applications the program received they received last year. A report from the Environmental Working Group shows that these practices need to be dramatically expanded to stop widespread soil erosion and water pollution in Midwestern farm country. The current bill also removes mandatory funding for the “Rural Energy for America” program which promotes renewable energy projects, citrus research, animal disease prevention studies and more.

Buried in the many-thousand-page bill, is another giveaway to Big Agriculture. It loosens and in some cases lifts restrictions on dangerous pesticide use in farming, which endangers water supplies, fish, animals and plants.  This unprecedented provision allows the Environmental Protection Agency to approve pesticides without analyzing the risks they pose to endangered species. This means the EPA could allow dangerous pesticides to be sprayed on endangered species’ habitats, including rivers and streams used by rare salmon, wetlands used by California red-legged frogs, and even marine environments used by orca whales and manatees.

Also in those pages are extreme provisions that would cause irreparable harm to national forests, clean drinking water and wildlife. The provisions eliminate environmental review for logging, roadbuilding and infrastructure decisions on national forests. They also undermine the National Environmental Policy Act and the Roadless Area Conservation Rule.

(Smithsonian) “That’s the big lesson from the Dust Bowl—that it’s possible for humans to take a natural disaster and make it worse for the environment and for themselves.”

Action:

Call your congressperson to oppose this Farm Bill. There’s no reason that any American should experience hunger in this country and tax cuts for the wealthy should not cause us to sacrifice programs that protect our local farmers, our water and our farm land.

Minimal Script: I’m calling from [___] to ask Rep. [___] to object to the H.R.2 – “Agriculture and Nutrition Act’s proposed work requirements for SNAP recipients and the rollback of programs that support healthy and sustainable farming practices. I urge you to vote for a Farm Bill that strengthens and supports consumers and our nation’s farmers.

Contact:
Rep. Julia Brownley: (CA-26): DC (202) 225-5811, Oxnard (805) 379-1779, T.O. (805) 379-1779
or Rep. Salud Carbajal: (CA-24): DC (202) 225-3601, SB (805) 730-1710 SLO (805) 546-8348
Other Contacts: http://www.phoneyourrep.com

 

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