WHAT IS THE ISSUE?
Poverty shows in the faces of God’s children victimized by hunger. More than 140 million children are underweight in the developing world. Hunger stunts their growth and makes them more vulnerable to disease. Hunger compromises the ability of women to provide for their families, and to give birth to and nourish healthy children. Hunger robs people of their productivity and creativity. Food crises, characterized by a dramatic rise in prices, exacerbate hunger in developing countries and drive economic and political instability and conflict.
• Around the world, poverty can be most easily seen in the desperation of vulnerable people who cannot feed themselves.
• In Niger, millions of people are threatened with starvation in the face of drought.
• But in Ethiopia and Haiti, families and villages are saved by food assistance programs in the US Farm bill.
• And in India, a child has a breakfast of warm bulgur wheat, thanks to the U.S. Government’s Food for Peace program.
WHY SHOULD PEOPLE OF FAITH CARE?
Hunger still claims enormous numbers of victims among those who, like Lazarus, are not permitted to take their place at the rich man’s table. As Pope Benedict XVI reminds us, our faith calls us to confront the scandal of hunger. We must ensure that all have a place at the “banquet of life to which all are equally invited by God.”
Poverty is a disease, but hunger has known cures. You can see it in the faces of children having a nourishing meal; of determined farmers harvesting drought-resistant crops made possible by development programs; and in the joy of families and communities sharing in the bountiful harvest. Working to end hunger, we can be instruments of God’s work on earth.
"Journey Against Hunger"
WHAT RESPONSE IS NEEDED?
Congress will reconsider the Farm bill this year. Programs that bring hope to people and an end to hunger are made possible by the U.S. Food for Peace Program, and the Farm Bill — legislation that directs U.S. agricultural policy. The current Farm bill expires at the end of September 2013.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, along with Catholic Relief Services, Catholic Charities USA and the National Catholic Rural Life Conference, unite to support certain provisions of the House Farm Bill.
But we have serious concerns about other provisions, most importantly the huge funding cut to anti-hunger initiatives. The U.S. Farm Bill should:
• Help people who are hungry here at home and overseas through improved access to nutritious food;
• Promote development in poor countries so that communities are more resilient to drought and other issues that cause persistent hunger;
• Better serve small and moderate-sized family farmers in the U.S., particularly minority-owned farms;
• Promote good stewardship of our land and environment; and
• Reduce subsidies to large U.S. agri-businesses and redirect savings to support anti-hunger efforts at home and around the world.
As Catholics in America, our united voice in the debate about U.S. agriculture and farm policies can influence legislation that will affect hungry people around the world, farmers in the U.S., the quality of our growing land, and the nature of our rural communities. Add your voice to the Catholic response for an improved and equitable Farm Bill.