farm income and food for all go together
What's wrong with this
Farmers and ranchers are
going broke, or barely hanging on, because of low prices for
Despite gains in the past
couple of years, 27 million American consumers face the
severe threat of hunger.
What's wrong with this
picture is that these parts, interrelated though they are,
aren't tied together into one coherent policy on food and
Rep. Tony Hall, D-Ohio, has
often seemed a lonely voice in the House of Representatives
to do something about hunger. If he would broaden his hunger
concern to include production of food, he might pick up
In the Senate, Sen. Byron
Dorgan, D-N.D., makes the clear distinction that the problem
of low commodity prices that devastates agriculture could
have at least a partial fix if everyone would be well fed.
Congress, his views suggest, is beginning to understand that
plans to include the hungry in the demand for food would
have some bearing on supply and therefore on farm income.
But he says he still runs
into extensive ignorance by many of his colleagues who point
to food stamps and the Women, Infants and Children's program
and assume the hungry are taken care of.
Here's another case where
the nation's food supply ought not be dissected and looked
at as disparate issues, following the lines of the
Congress ought to put
together a bipartisan, House-Senate committee. It should
strive to look at food and farm together for a national
policy that seeks to assure stability in agriculture and
access to an abundant food supply for all people. The goal
could be an early test of President-elect Bush's commitment
to a bipartisan approach in solving the nation's problems.
More than any other
secretary of agriculture, Dan Glickman made the connection
between sound farm policy and access to good nutrition for
everyone in the country. He'll be leaving office soon, but
his experience could be helpful.
Previously federal policy
solved neither farm nor hunger problems. The huge stashes of
farm surpluses indicated just how far traditional
agricultural programs had been removed from practical
solutions for farmers. At the same time, as soon as
surpluses were gone, federal programs for the hungry were
abandoned or vastly reduced. In short, federal policy
neither supported agriculture nor assured ample food for
everyone living in this land of abundance. It probably
wouldn't be easy to define a comprehensive farm and food
policy that would at least provide some guidance for
agriculture and some assurance of food for all.
But it's worth the effort on
both sides of the equation. Farm policy ought to be aimed at
shoring up the family farm, not just setting aside surpluses
that have contributed to low commodity prices. The goal of a
food policy should be access to ample food for all, which
naturally would include the hungry.
It's time to stop the
makeshift approach to both and to start defining means of
making wise use of our agricultural bonanza. We owe no less
to the people who produce it and the people who rely on it
for good nutrition. The two connect.
from Capital Press - www.capitalpress.com
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