WASHINGTON, DC - May 8 - Bread for the World gave mixed reviews to the farm bill agreement as outlined today by congressional negotiators. The compromise bill is scheduled to be voted on in both the House and the Senate next week before it will be sent to the White House for signature.
"At this time of growing hunger and poverty in our country, we celebrate the increases in funding for nutrition programs for hungry people in the United States. But Congress missed an opportunity for substantive reform in the commodity programs," said David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World. "They did not set a new direction for agriculture and did not respond to the recent increase in global hunger."
In reaching the compromise $300 billion farm bill, funding for the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program was reduced from $840 million to only $84 million. The compromise bill reduces the income limit for direct payments and places a hard cap for non-farm income. On the other hand, it contains a permanent disaster fund of $3.8 billion and will continue direct payments at around $5 billion annually at a time of record farm income and commodity prices.
"We do welcome these changes in the commodity title," said Rev. Beckmann. " The camel's nose is in the tent and the next time we debate the farm bill it won't be business as usual."
Bread for the World has been working to reform the farm bill in partnership with a diverse coalition of church, environmental, and taxpayer groups. The commodity groups spent $80 million dollars last year to lobby for the status quo. Given the difference in resources, this much change is an achievement.
Bread for the World is a collective Christian voice urging our nation's decision makers to end hunger at home and abroad. www.bread.org