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In these reflections, we seek to challenge this lack of awareness, which can lead to indifference or excessive self-interest. We focus on the ethics of how food and fiber are produced, how land is protected, and how agriculture is structured, compensated, and regulated to serve the “common good.” We also call Catholics to think more about and act on these important but often neglected concerns in light of our faith.
In this document, we outline some “signs of the times,” lift up principles from Catholic social teaching, and suggest elements of an “agenda for action.” We also highlight the global dimensions of agriculture today and how they contribute to the growing gap between rich and poor at home and abroad. But more than anything else, we seek to place the life and dignity of the human person at the center of the discussions and decisions on agriculture.
We offer these reflections especially to three groups:
First, we recognize and encourage those who carry out and contribute to the work of agriculture in the United States and abroad: farmers and farmworkers, leaders of rural communities, and those who serve them in our Church. When we refer to farmers and farmworkers, our concern also extends to those who produce our food and fiber, to ranchers, and to other agricultural workers. For all those who devote their lives to agriculture, we offer words of support and appreciation, as well as a plea to work together more cooperatively and constructively for the common good.
Second, we offer elements of a moral framework for those involved in agricultural policy: political leaders, experts, advocates, and activists. We urge them to look at agricultural choices and at how these choices touch the most vulnerable within agriculture and in the larger national and global community.
Third, we encourage members of the broader Catholic community to give greater attention and priority to issues of food and agriculture and their connections to our faith.
We hope these reflections will contribute to a broader dialogue about the ethical and human dimensions of agricultural policy. We invite those involved in and those affected by the global agricultural system to consider several key questions:
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