Hearts & Minds -
Global Poverty Nonprofit
Advocates Food Aid Reform
2008 Farm Bill
needs fixing to benefit American consumers and the world's poorest
For Immediate Release
The current Farm legislation needs fixing to help end global hunger.
We could also empower millions of farmers in
developing countries with much better food aid. At the same time, we could
lower food prices for Americans and the world’s poorest people.
Wasteful programs call for
Hearts and MindsSM,
a nonprofit organization, is working to help end global hunger much more
quickly. Their grassroots letter-writing campaign urges Congress to
distribute food aid more fairly and responsibly.
"We can do better. Much better," says Bill
Blackman, Hearts & Minds’ founder and president. "The time to speak out
The nonpartisan nonprofit is asking Congress to
replace often wasteful and even harmful food aid with programs
that really work.
Benefits for the wealthy at
As it stands now, the biggest benefits go to
multi-millionaire farmers and huge agri-business corporations.
Under new limits, a married couple earning up
to $2.5 million still qualifies for government farm payments, according to Ferd Hoefner, policy director of the Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.
The current bill continues to favor the large
"factory" farms rather than more environmentally friendly, local family
"Faced with a mounting food crisis at home and
abroad, Congress had the opportunity through the farm bill to shift
funds from wasteful agricultural subsidies for large-scale farms to food
aid to meet the needs of the poor, But instead, congressional leaders
settled on a bill that will continue to be costly to taxpayers,
undermine our rural economy, damage our trade relationships and hurt the
world's poorest farmers."
-Raymond Offenheiser, president
of Oxfam America, an overseas poverty and development group
Even very wealthy
race horse owners still get tax breaks. All this at a time when agricultural
commodity prices are at record highs, further penalizing the consumers and
taxpayers who are subsidizing all this waste.
Hearts & Minds supports breaking the vicious cycle of food shortages and
hunger. This includes:
- Ending wasteful, indirect aid programs. Our
government buys as much as $2 billion each year of American crops. We then
pay huge amounts to ship it overseas and give it to nonprofits to sell at
the market rate in developing countries. The nonprofits in turn use this to
fund non-food foreign aid.
For example, shipping US corn to other continents can cost as much as
$300 a ton when local farmers are trying to sell their corn for as
little as $30 a ton. The practice also raises prices for American
consumers, favors mostly the richest US farmers, and produces plenty of
extra, wasteful greenhouse gasses. In addition, crop sales in overseas
markets hurt local farmers trying to sell their grain—the very ones we are
supposed to be helping. Prominent aid organizations such as Care,
Catholic Relief Services and many others have criticized the practice
for this reason.
- Phasing out price-distorting subsidies for
US-produced crops including cotton, soy and grain. This helps farmers in
developing nations compete fairly. It will also save American taxpayers $16
billion a year compared to the 2002 Farm Bill that is now expiring. Most of
these payments go to America’s richest farmers and corporations.
- Increasing aid for farmers around the world to learn
and implement much more productive, sustainable crop growing techniques.
- Ending protectionist trade barriers to imported
food, opening our market to millions of the world’s poorest farmers.
- Providing at least $1.2 billion a year in
emergency food aid, a figure the Bush Administration now supports, to
address extreme hunger and refugee situations.
- Purchasing food aid from farmers in the nations
being helped. This promotes their long-term agricultural
- Ending subsidies for biofuel, such as ethanol
from corn. This product provides only 25-38 percent more energy than
what is needed to produce it. It also significantly raises food prices
for Americans as well as poor people around the world.
- Using the savings from these wasteful programs to
fund the most cost-effective aid alternatives, as outlined in Hearts &
Minds’ End Poverty CampaignSM
platform at www.change.net/poverty/platform.htm.
"Most voters want our government to use its global
influence to really help people in need," says Bill Blackman. "We shouldn't
let our food aid for the next five years become hostage to domestic special
The need to act
Legislation passed in May 2008 badly needs reform. Expenditures totaling $300 billion in the next five years
are at stake.
"The loopholes are still there," said Senator Chuck
Hagel, Republican from the farm state of Nebraska. "It's larded down with
pork. It's just a bad bill."
Even the White House, often accused of favoring the
wealthy and big corporations, is opposed to this wasteful bill. Jim
Nussle, White House budget director, said the legislation is too expensive,
uses budget gimmicks and is very weak on reform.
How citizens can help reform
the Farm Bill
Information on how citizens can influence their elected representatives is
online at www.change.net/poverty/farm.htm.
# # #
Info and Contacts
Top of Page | Home Page
| Site Guide
This web page and entire website ©
Copyright: 1997 - 2015 by Hearts and Minds Network,
online March 11, 2008, latest text
changes May 20, 2008
Hearts & Minds
Copyrights, Reprints & Important Notes