You can use this letter today:
Dear (your elected representatives),
The current Farm legislation does not do anywhere what it could to reduce global hunger.
We could also empower millions of farmers in developing countries with much better food aid. At the same time, we could lower food prices for Americans and the world’s poorest people.
I am asking you to replace the often wasteful and even harmful food aid programs with programs that really work.
I enthusiastically support Farm Bill reforms that help break the vicious cycle of food shortages and hunger. This includes:
• Phasing out price-distorting subsidies for US-produced crops including cotton, soy and grain. This helps farmers in developing nations compete fairly. It will also save American [taxpayers $16 billion a year compared to the 2002 Farm Bill, now expiring. Most of these payments go to America’s richest farmers and corporations.
• Increasing aid for farmers around the world to learn and implement much more productive, sustainable crop growing techniques.
• Ending wasteful, indirect aid programs. Our government buys as much as $2 billion each year of American crops for food aid. We then pay huge amounts to ship it overseas and give it to nonprofits to sell at the market rate in developing countries. The nonprofits in turn use this to fund non-food foreign aid.
For example, shipping US corn to other continents can cost as much as $300 a ton when local farmers are trying to sell their corn for as little as $30 a ton. The practice also raises prices for American consumers, favors mostly the richest US farmers, and produces plenty of extra, wasteful greenhouse gasses. In addition, crop sales in overseas markets hurt local farmers trying to sell their grain - the ones we are supposed to be helping. Prominent aid organizations such as Care, Catholic Relief Services and many others have criticized the practice for this reason.
• Ending protectionist trade barriers to imported food, opening our market to millions of the world’s poorest farmers.
• Providing at least $1.2 billion a year in emergency food aid to address extreme hunger and refugee situations. Purchasing food aid from farmers in the nations being helped. This promotes their long-term agricultural self-sufficiency.
• Ending subsidies for biofuel, such as ethanol from corn. This product provides only 25-[38 percent more energy than what is needed to produce it. It also significantly raises food prices for Americans as well as poor people around the world.
• Using the savings from these wasteful programs to fund the most cost-effective aid alternatives, as outlined in Hearts & Minds’ End Poverty CampaignSM platform at www.change.net/poverty/platform.htm..
Most voters want our government to use its global influence to really help people in need. We shouldn't let our food aid for the next five years become hostage to domestic special interests.
The developing nations spend $25 on debt repayment for every $1 of aid they receive.
We need to act now to end global poverty!
This is very important to me and many others I am actively speaking with. I would like to tell everyone that you fully support this very important program.
Please let me know, when and how you are actively supporting these programs. What specific legislation are you co-sponsoring and when will you bring it out of committee for a vote by the full Congress?
We, the people, want to know: Will you work with us now to help create a much better world?
Put this letter to work:
by Bill Blackman, president, and the
volunteers of Hearts & Minds