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Tell Congress to Advance a Climate-Smart Farm Bill In 2023
We have a critical opportunity to advocate for a climate-smart agricultural sector that advances justice. The five-year proposal now being drafted offers the chance to reduce hunger, promote environmental stewardship and promote fairness to all farmers and farmworkers. Our UU values call on us to advocate for a Farm Bill that brings about fairness, especially to farmers and farm workers of color who have been left out of earlier bills, and that encourages production of sustainably grown, healthful food rather than commodity crops grown in ways that deplete soil and pollute our waterways.
Why now? The current Farm Bill expires on September 30, 2023, so both the House and Senate are actively working on drafting a new five-year Farm Bill. Our Representatives and Senators need to hear from us now so that the Farm Bill, as enacted, reflects our UU values.
Past Farm Bills have primarily directed agricultural subsidies to growers of corn, soybeans, and similar commodities grown primarily as feed for animals raised in concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). That skewed funding functions to pad corporate profits while driving small farms out of business and supporting animal suffering and pollution caused by CAFOs. Moreover, due to long-running and persistent discrimination in the administration of farm loans, BIPOC farmers have received far less than their fair share of loans and other support. They have consequently lost much of the land they and their ancestors farmed. Small and family farms that have received few benefits from past bills are more likely to deploy sustainable practices. Past Farm Bills have also encouraged massive consolidation and mechanization of farms without adequately promoting good environmental stewardship.
There is a pressing need to redirect Farm Bill funding to reducing hunger, promoting sustainable farming practices, fighting climate change, and making our agricultural sector more equitable.
Promoting sustainable farming techniques and reducing carbon emissions falls within our UU 7th Principle: “Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.” The 2019 UU G.A. adopted an Action of Immediate Witness entitled “Build the Movement for a Green New Deal,” which recognized the intersectional nature of climate issues and [environmental] justice issues and urged that UUs “Develop a new morality, rebuilding our political and economic structures to prioritize the well-being of future generations, grounded in sustainability.”
Supporting programs that assist farmers of color and farm workers is consistent with promoting “Justice, equity, and compassion in human relations,” as stated in our 2nd Principle.
Suggested Talking Points
(use your own examples, tell your story, and/or draw on some of these suggested points)
As a person of faith, I ask you to work toward crafting a new Farm Bill that would curb hunger, protect our environment, reduce injustice, and support vibrant agricultural economies rather than promoting cheap raw materials for animal feeding. In particular, the new Farm Bill should:
Sample Letter to Your Senators
(use your own words; speak from your heart -- this is only a sample letter)
Dear Senator (or Representative) ______________, [write to both of your Senators and your Representative]
I’m a Unitarian Universalist from [optional: name of congregation and location] and a supporter of the Unitarian Universalists for Social Justice. Fundamental principles of our faith include promoting justice, equity, and compassion in human relations and respecting the interdependent web of all existence we are a part of.
As Congress works toward crafting the 2023 Farm Bill, I urge you to do all you can to strengthen programs that reduce hunger, promote environmental stewardship, and reduce carbon emissions. In addition, Congress should not miss this opportunity to support fairness to farmers of color and to those who work the land and pick the produce on which we depend.
[To support the message, include in your own words a personal experience, a story, or concern relating to how food is grown and distributed in this country.]
I look forward to your plans to ensure the 2023 Farm Bill promotes these vital objectives.
This year, we have a critical opportunity to advocate for a climate-smart agricultural sector that advances justice.
We have an essential role to play in showcasing that faith advocates see a moral imperative for a proposal that shifts to a greener, more sustainable, more regenerative approach. This, in deference to our relationship to the interdependent web of all life, while also looking to be just and seeking to address inequities.