Greens urge defeat of current Farm Bill, urge legislation to assist small local farms instead of big agribusiness
GREEN PARTY OF THE UNITED STATES
For Immediate Release:
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Scott McLarty, Media Coordinator, 202-518-5624, cell 202-904-7614, firstname.lastname@example.org
Starlene Rankin, Media Coordinator, 916-995-3805, email@example.com
Main Street, not Wall Street: Green Party calls for bill to assist local economies, promote local production of nutritious food, and end hunger in the US and around the world
WASHINGTON, DC -- Green Party leaders called for national defeat of the $300 billion Farm Bill, calling it a capitulation to major agribusiness interests and a blow to small farmers.
"While the bill contains a funding for nutrition and some environmental reforms, the bill would provide huge subsidies for powerful agricultural corporations, giving them greater power to crush and absorb family farms," said Rodger Jennings, Green candidate for Congress (http://www.rodgerjennings.org) in District 12 of Illinois, a large part of which is farm land. "Corporate welfare will not solve the world food crisis."
The bill, which comes up for renewal every five years, is the result of a House-Senate compromise and has strong bipartisan support, especially from Democratic leadership. Congress is expected to vote on it in July.
Greens drew attention to several problems with the current bill:
- The bill provides no real relief for US counties with the highest rates of poverty, since subsidies mainly benefit the wealthy owners of corporate farms.
- The bill grants subsidies for crops like corn, wheat, cotton, rice and soybeans -- US imports dumped into poorer countries, hurting subsistence farmers in these countries and hindering farmers in other countries from competing in international markets. When prices for food plummet as a result, local farms fail and are replaced by giant agribusinesses, and poverty increases.
- The bill does not support cultivation of fruits and vegetables, and instead promotes an economy that encourages cheap calories and drives up the price of nutritious foods, aggravating obesity and other health problems.
- The bill encourages production of sugar and corn to be used for ethanol, which Greens call an inefficient replacement for fossil fuels; the rise in ethanol-based energy has converted land that could be used for food production into a source of fuel. This conversion has caused economic and food supply crises in several African countries, as agricultural land now benefits the high energy-consumption demands of the US and other western nations.
- The richest 5% of US farm owners would win more than half of the bill's federal subsidies. Black farmers complain that they would be excluded from the subsidies program.
"The Green Party urges passage of legislation that would strengthen small, locally owned farms and give them protection against the takeover of land by giant agricultural corporations. We support strong local economies, with farms that provide nutritious food and numerous financial benefits for the surrounding community," said Carol Brouillet, California Green candidate for the US House in District 14 (http://www.communitycurrency.org).
"The current bill favors Wall Street. Greens support Main Street. We need a farm bill that will replace hunger with abundant nutritious organic food, help family farms, and promote locally based economic development and self-reliance," added Jason Wallace, Green Candidate for Congress in Illinois' largely agricultural 11th District (http://www.electwallace.us).
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