This year, The Farm Bill is up for reauthorization by the U.S. Congress. If we can implement certain changes, we can create a healthy food system for everyone.
The Farm Bill dictates the way payments are structured to farms and the Supplemental Nutrition Access Program (SNAP) providing food stamps for nearly 46 million people living at or below the federal poverty line. Federal nutrition programs go a long way towards reducing hunger, but they accomplish much less by way of ensuring a healthy, well-balanced diet. This is especially troubling since more than 50% of all participants in nutrition programs are children; the elderly represent an additional 17% of the vulnerable depending upon this assistance. Dietary habits form early in life and tend to last a lifetime. Rates of obesity and other diet-related health conditions are soaring, and the medical costs associated with obesity have risen to hundreds of billions of dollars a year. Thus, nutrition programs need to make greater efforts to enable low-income families to overcome barriers to purchasing healthy foods.
In its current form, commodity producers growing corn and soy--mainly used for high fructose corn syrup, fillers, and animal feed--receive nearly 95% of The Farm Bill's $41.6 billion payments to growers. Farmers growing the foods that nourish our community receive only 5%.
Renewal of the bill provides an opportunity to shift more support to food growers that will in turn significantly reduce childhood obesity, diabetes and heart disease. A decline in diet-related illness could decrease health care spending by hundreds of billions of dollars.
Sign this petition and send a message asking your representative to support a comprehensive 2012 Farm Bill that provides:
1) Incentives to preserve and increase regional healthy food production;
2) Education and financial support to generate growth and employment in the healthy food retail sector that enables store owners to stock stores with better choices;
3) Funding for pilot programs that bring together community groups, schools, non-profits and health care providers that focus on reducing childhood obesity and hospitalization related to diabetes.
We stand to make significant gains in America's health. Our food system is broken, and we need to put good policies in place in the 2012 Farm Bill in order to restore health and wholeness to the system.
Thanks for taking action!