Sowing the Seeds for a Just Farm Bill
On Thursday, RAC Legislative Director Barbara Weinstein joined leaders from six national organizations comprising the Jewish Farm Bill Working Group to deliver a petition with more than 18,000 signatures to House leadership and the Obama Administration urging that the upcoming Farm Bill emphasize economic and environmental justice priorities.
The Jewish Farm Bill Working Group delivered 18,000 petition signatures to Congress and the White House. Standing in front of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building (L-R) are Cheryl Cook, COO of Hazon; Barbara Weinstein, RAC Legislative Director; Rabbi Steve Gutow, President of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs; Ruth Messinger, President of American Jewish World Service; and Samuel Choo, director of National Advocacy for MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger.
“We are proud to join with others in the Jewish Farm Bill Working Group, a broad cross-section of American Jewish life composed of 20 national denominational and communal organizations, to deliver this petition today to Congress and the Obama Administration, reflecting our strong support for a just Farm Bill,” Weinstein said in a statement released yesterday. “More than 18,000 Jews across North America, including thousands of members of the Reform Movement, have made clear [through signing the Jewish Petition for a Just Farm Bill] that the Farm Bill must embody our nation’s commitment to environmental sustainability and combating hunger.”
The Farm Bill, considered once every five years, has a far-reaching and long-lasting impact on food policy in the U.S. and around the world, from foreign assistance and food safety, to environmental conservation and anti-hunger programs. By delivering this petition just days before the House Agriculture Committee begins mark-up of its version of the Farm Bill, the Working Group conveyed to elected representatives the critical need for them to ensure this legislation protects and prioritizes funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) and other nutrition programs, as well as conservation and renewable energy programs that protect air, water and soil.
The group spent the day meeting with House offices and the White House, including staff of Representative Collin Peterson (D-MN), ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee; Representative Jim McGovern (D-MA), who also serves on the House Agriculture Committee; and members of the White House National Economic Council and Domestic Policy Council.
Our connections with the policies encompassed by the Farm Bill run deep: From the knowledge that “The human being was placed in the Garden of Eden to till it and to tend it” (Genesis 2:15) to the commandment that we leave the corners of our field for the hungry (Leviticus 23:22), Judaism continues to remind us of our intimate connection to the land and the ways in which we sustain it so that it sustains us.
And finally, in case you were wondering: Yes, there are approximately 18,000 sunflower seeds in the containers pictured at left – one seed for every person who signed the petition and whose voice was heard yesterday on Capitol Hill.
Check back for more updates as the Senate takes up the Farm Bill in the coming week and the House follows suit thereafter.