Church World Service welcomes the passage of the quadrennial Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, commonly referred to as the Farm Bill. Along with colleague organizations in the faith community CWS advocated with Congress to ensure that the Farm Bill helps meet the needs of food insecure families in the United States and around the world.
Our 2018 Farm Bill efforts focused on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly Food Stamps). From Public Service Announcements in Kansas, op/eds across the country and meetings with Congressional offices, CWS and the faith community worked tirelessly to eliminate the onerous work requirements and eligibility changes in the House version of the bill that had the potential to throw millions of recipients off the critical support they need to feed themselves and their families. Thankfully, our efforts were successful, and the final legislation did not include these harmful provisions.
Our advocacy also helped persuade Congress to increase funding to SNAP Employment and Training programs, as well as to authorize funds for under-served populations such as returning formerly incarcerated citizens, enabling them to receive much-needed benefits.
Internationally, the Farm Bill allocates 10 percent of McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program resources to local and regional procurement of commodities (rather than requiring shipments from the U.S.). These funds allow for food aid purchases to be made in or near the region where they will be used, thus helping local farmers and developing local economies.
The final bill included a completely unrelated provision voted earlier by the House of Representatives that prevents the current Congress from ending U.S. support for Saudi Arabia’s brutal war in Yemen. This war has resulted in the deaths of countless civilians and placed the Yemeni population at risk of starvation. As a humanitarian agency that has stood strong caring for the most vulnerable, support for this military intervention violates the kind of world we have been working towards for more than seventy years, and is totally unacceptable and wrong.
We understand that the U.S. federal budget is a moral document that expresses our nation’s values, and we are appreciative that elements of the 2018 Farm Bill demonstrate America’s care for the most vulnerable among us.
As with all Church World Service advocacy, our work on the Farm bill is rooted in Jesus’ call to feed the hungry, satisfy the thirsty, welcome the immigrant, clothe the naked, care for the sick and show mercy to the prisoners (Matthew 25: 31-40). Our goal is a world where there will be Enough for All.