Bishops Join Catholic Relief Services, National Catholic Rural Life Conference In Voicing Hopes And Concerns On Farm Bill

July 10, 2012 By Public Affairs Office

WASHINGTON—The U.S. Conference ofCatholic Bishops (USCCB), along with Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and theNational Catholic Rural Life Conference, expressed their concerns for the HouseCommittee on Agriculture's proposed version of the Farm Bill in a July 10letter to Representatives Frank D. Lucas and Collin Peterson, the chairman andranking member, respectively, of the House Committee on Agriculture.

A just Farm Bill "cannot rely ondisproportionate cuts to essential services for hungry, poor and vulnerablepeople," wrote Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, California, Bishop RichardE. Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, Carolyn Y. Woo, CRS president, and James F. Ennis,executive director of the National Catholic Rural Life Conference. Theyaffirmed the need to protect programs that "feed poor and vulnerable people,serve small and moderate-sized family farms, promote stewardship of creationand help rural communities both at home and abroad prosper."

Bishops Blaire and Pates chair theUSCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development and the Committee onInternational Justice and Peace, respectively.

The letter highlighted positive elementsin the Committee's Farm Bill proposal to support international food aid to thepoorest countries and to increase funding for The Emergency Food AssistanceProgram (TEFAP), which will help churches and other charities serve hungrypeople. The letter expressed concern over more than $16 billion in proposed cutsto the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps),stating, "To cut programs that feed hungry people in the midst of economicturmoil is unjustified and wrong."

The letter called a proposal toeliminate direct payments in farm subsidies "a positive step" but said cropinsurance should be targeted to help small and medium sized farmers over largerindustrial agriculture.

Full text of the letter is availableonline: www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/agriculture/upload/Joint-House-Ag-Comm-Farm-Bill-Ltr-2012-07-10.pdf

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Keywords: USCCB, U.S. bishops, U.S. Conference of CatholicBishops, Bishop Stephen E. Blaire, Bishop Richard E. Pates, Carolyn Woo, CRS,Catholic Relief Services, James Ennis, National Catholic Rural Life Conference,Domestic Justice and Human Development, International Justice and Peace, FarmBill, House Agriculture Committee, farm subsidies, food stamps, crop insurance,Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act (FARRM), industrialagriculture, family farms

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