11/12/2007 - 9:17am
A Fair Bill for the World's Farmers
Posted by Howard Salter
More than 70 years ago, Congress created the Farm Bill. It was designed to give American farmers a safety net when the market bottomed out. Fast forward seven decades and this legislation hurts farmers in rural America and around the globe.
Today's Farm Bill gives out large government checks - commodity subsidies - to producers of a small number of crops. Most American farmers get little or nothing. Meanwhile, people in rural communities are suffering. They lack medical services, good schools and their land suffers environmental degradation.
According to Bread for the World, a leading anti-hunger organization, the times they are a changing from the birth of the Farm Bill:
In fact, the Farm Bill not only harms people in the U.S., it especially burdens farmers in developing countries. The current state of U.S. farm policy encourages domestic overproduction of crops such as cotton and rice. The commodity payment to large ? mostly corporate-owned farms - creates a glut that drives down world prices, undermining the livelihoods of millions of small farmers around the world.
Cotton farmers in countries like Senegal, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mali have much lower production costs than those in the U.S. However, these African farmers cannot survive when world prices are so low, thanks in part to U.S. cotton commodity payments. For these African nations, where 10 million people who earn roughly $1 to $2 a day depend directly on cotton, U.S. farm programs shatter hopes of reducing hunger and poverty.
Rekha Basu, of the Des Moines Register, writes:
As Rekha notes, there has to be a better way, don?t you think?
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