The Senate claims the Farm Bill is good for everyone. The truth is that it hurts poor farmers here and abroad by giving unfair subsidies to millionaire farmers, not those who need subsidies the most!
Like the House version that passed earlier this year, the Senate bill being considered would:
- favor a relatively small number of producers at the expense of most farmers and rural communities;
- fall short of meeting its obligations to families that depend on food stamps; and
- fail at conservation programs that protect rivers and streams.
To make things worse, the Farm Bill would actually hurt poor farmers in developing countries - if we don't take action to fix it.
This week is our last chance to enact real reform, but the Senate won't listen unless thousands of people take action. Poor farmers are counting on you!
Insist that the Farm Bill that comes to a vote in the Senate reduce trade-distorting subsidies and use the savings to support programs for nutrition, conservation, and rural development!
Dear Senator [Name],
The 2007 Farm Bill provides a powerful opportunity to reduce poverty at home and abroad. The Farm Bill passed by the House of Representatives, however well intentioned, maintains an unfair system of harmful commodity subsidies.
These subsidies undercut farmers and rural economies at home and abroad. Only one-quarter of American farmers receive commodity subsidies. Of these, the largest 10 percent of producers receive 75 percent of all payments. Contrary to the notion that subsidies help promote economic growth in rural America, the counties that receive the most commodity subsidies have seen job gains below the national average. Moreover, the commodity subsidies that our taxpayer dollars support lead to excess production, reducing world market prices, undermining the livelihoods of millions of small farmers around the world.
Your leadership can bring about change. As a voting constituent, I urge you to:
1. Vote yes on the Lugar-Lautenberg Farm Ranch Equity Stewardship and Health (FRESH) Amendment. The FRESH Amendment will provide a more effective safety net for all farmers regardless of what they grow or where they farm. The amendment reinvests $16 billion in savings over five years into several programs: $1.5 billion will go to new support for specialty crop farmers; $2.0 billion will go to improve diet and health; $6.2 billion will go to invest in popular conservation programs; $4.3 billion will go to help more hungry Americans; $3.0 billion will go to reduce the federal deficit; and $1.6 billion will go to support investments in renewable energy. The amendment will also bring our farm policy into compliance with international trade rules-removing the threat of real threat of retaliation.
2. Vote yes on the Grassley-Dorgan Payment Limits Amendment. The Grassley-Dorgan Payment Limits Amendment will place a real limit on the amount of money any one entity can receive, and it will close loopholes that allow some producers to evade limits altogether. This amendment will level the playing field for family farms and rural communities by producing budget savings that can be reinvested into programs?such as nutrition, conservation, and rural development-that deliver enhanced social benefits.
3. Provide mandatory funding for all programs, including $15 million for the 2501 Outreach and Education Program to match H.R. 2419. Mandatory funding will allow this program to help address inequities faced by farmers of color here at home.
4. Vote yes on amendments that would reduce cotton subsidies that hurt poor farmers around the world. Cotton subsidies maintained by the Agriculture Committee are especially troubling, with just 12,000 farms receiving up to three billion dollars in subsidies annually. These subsidies have a devastating effect on poor cotton farmers around the world. Failure to reform these trade-distorting subsidies will mean that those who don't need subsidies in the US continue to benefit at the taxpayers' expense while those who need the most help -the 10 million people in West Africa for whom cotton is their only source of income - suffer more. Cotton is often the only source of cash income for these families, most of them living on less than $1 a day. Reforming U.S. cotton subsidies would increase world cotton prices, resulting in added income that could feed an additional million children for a year who live in extremely poor West African cotton growing households.
Commodity subsidies hurt family farmers and cheat taxpayers. The Senate can succeed where the House of Representatives failed by making the Farm Bill fair.
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