Bishops Join CRS, NCRLC in Voicing Hopes and Concerns on Farm Bill
WASHINGTON (July 10, 2012) -- The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), along with Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and the National Catholic Rural Life Conference, expressed their concerns for the House Committee on Agriculture’s proposed version of the Farm Bill in a July 10 letter to Representatives Frank D. Lucas and Collin Peterson, the chairman and ranking member, respectively, of the House Committee on Agriculture.
A just Farm Bill "cannot rely on disproportionate cuts to essential services for hungry, poor and vulnerable people," wrote Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, California, Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, Carolyn Y. Woo, CRS president, and James F. Ennis, executive director of the National Catholic Rural Life Conference.
Affirmed Feeding Poor
They affirmed the need to protect programs that "feed poor and vulnerable people, serve small and moderate-sized family farms, promote stewardship of creation and help rural communities both at home and abroad prosper."
Bishops Blaire and Pates chair the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development and the Committee on International Justice and Peace, respectively.
Highlighted Positive Elements
The letter highlighted positive elements in the Committee's Farm Bill proposal to support international food aid to the poorest countries and to increase funding for The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), which will help churches and other charities serve hungry people.
The letter expressed concern over more than $16 billion in proposed cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps), stating, "To cut programs that feed hungry people in the midst of economic turmoil is unjustified and wrong."
Help Small, Medium Farmers
The letter called a proposal to eliminate direct payments in farm subsidies "a positive step" but said crop insurance should be targeted to help small and medium sized farmers over larger industrial agriculture.