April Message

15 April 2013


Dear Friends:

It is  hard to believe, but many friends in Congress agree—in a few weeks we start the Farm Bill process all over again.

Last year Christina and I stayed in a D.C. conference room until 1:30 in the morning with the House Ag Committee where we witnessed them pass their version of a bill.

Since then, no Farm Bill, but Congressional shenanigans that circumvented the Farm Bill process have decimated programs dear to your heart.

Today we are in a full court press to solicit donations that will enable us to be present—on your behalf—at every step of a new 2013 Farm Bill process. This newsletter highlights how the Farm bill affects you, and the cuts forthcoming.

Daughter takes a cooking class in school? Farm Bill makes that possible.

Do you frequent farmers’ markets? Farm Bill, again

School garden? You got it, Farm Bill.

And so it goes.

Which means we need you to contribute to our Advocacy Fund now, so that we can be present and stay on top of what transpires from the outset, and at every step of the way.

By now it should come as no surprise that everything we take for granted, what we think of as our United States is on the chopping block.

In the face of this, CFJC staff work tirelessly to make sure your voice and values are heard. Please contribute now so that we can make sure that even more cuts are not enacted unopposed.

At the very least, we will make sure that we document and publicize the steps a Congress bankrolled by corporate interests is taking to dismantle farm and food programs and our social safety net, to put corporate profits ahead of the people of our country.

Make no mistake, the high profile debate over Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security has captured the attention of news media and pundits today, and they are important issues.

But as with an illusionist, this slight of hand must not detract our attention from the unkind cuts taking place and promoted behind the scenes. Remember, this is about our way of life. About caring for one another, especially for the least fortunate among us. Because most of us still aspire to be a country of, by and for people as equals, and not a country whose morals have been twisted to serve corporate interests.

It’s about decent pay for honest work, so that families can keep the family farm; so that food workers don’t have to get food stamps to survive; so that all children have access to healthy food.

After multiple Continuing Resolutions, the Sequestration, Debt Ceiling debates and endless filibusters, one thing is crystal clear. The absence of a federal budget, and all the continuing distractions have never been about a lack of resources, or money. As with the Farm Bill, it is about how our Congressional Representatives decide to allocate our resources.

To be sure, there are many heroes in Congress who still attempt to do the people’s business while navigating corridors filled with lobbyists intent on one thing only—to sway Congress by any means necessary, and to say they have gained the upper hand is self evident.

But last week it was farm and food workers’ turn to walk the halls of Congress, alongside the parents and loved ones from Sandy Hook School in Newtown, Conn. And yet, as powerful and moving as all their pleas were, at the end of the week they had to return to homes and jobs, and lives far removed from D.C. politics.

Remember, one of the things that CFJC does on your behalf is partner with D.C. based organizations like the Rural Coalition to remind policy makers and other advocates every week that what is done in D.C. has dramatic effects on families and individuals in our communities at a time when more and more people are falling into poverty—when nearly 47 million people are struggling to put food on the table.

We sense a rumbling across the country, a dis-ease that started in communities like yours, where individuals, families and communities sense it is time for a change, even if no one is quite sure what that change will ultimately look like. We are hearing you want secure communities, with local controls. That you want national representatives who are in tune with the day-to-day issues affecting all our lives, and not just ideological diatribes.

It is time to begin to show our representatives what change must look like, even as we are in the process of defining it.

Because just voting for representative government is demonstrably not enough.

So as we start another Farm Bill season, make sure your voice is heard, at your dinner tables, among your friends and family, and at your place of work. And make a donation to ensure that your values and voice, that the needs of our children, our families, and our people are once again the standard of excellence in a country where greed has become a paragon of virtue.

As I write this column the Supreme Court is set to hear the corporate case that human genes can be patented—seriously? The Supreme Court is already deliberating on same sex marriage. And in Congress, background checks for the purchase of guns is the order/ discussion of the day. Again, seriously? You have to register your car, but you can purchase an assault weapon with complete anonymity?

If we pay attention to what is happening right now in Washington, D.C., we get a snapshot of how far off the beam we have let our representatives stray. And just throwing up our hands in disgust is no longer a viable option.

Again, I have always taken it for granted that we have a social contract that dictates that we build and maintain a foundational safety net for those not able to take care of themselves, and/or their family(s). These are not “the takers,” as small minded men like to cite. These are our neighbors, our friends, our family.

Remember, we have to accept that the current make-up of Congress is comprised of many people who simply do not believe that government should have a significant role in providing a safety net. That the safety net should be provided exclusively by charity and faith-based efforts. This is not only short sighted, it is dangerous.

Last week we attended a meeting at Allan Temple Baptist Church, one of the largest such in the country, where the preacher made it clear that charity alone is not enough to heal the ills of our communities. At the table were representatives from academia, the nonprofit sector, and government. It would seem that Oakland is experiencing something of the rising of community I have not seen since the ‘60s, when our country launched a “war on poverty.”

It’s about time.

CFJC has worked hard to position staff strategically to advocate for your beliefs and values. Please make a contribution now, to make sure that we continue to do so. Remember, it is your voice that must resound in Congress, and we can help.

We are prepared to do so now, as Congress begins to look at what a new Farm Bill will look like. We reject the notion that we have to accept the current mess in place as a result of back room deals. Any new legislation must begin with the restoration of 37 programs de-funded, and the Section 2501 beginning farmers program.

For the past two years CFJC fought hard alongside our partners for a seat at the table where these fundamental discussions and decisions are taking place. Please make a donation now to the Advocacy Fund so that we can uplift your voice and values, and help bring sanity and common sense back to the policy making arena.

You will be hearing more about this request for unrestricted funding as every staff member reaches out for your help—via this newsletter, blogs and social media, and telephone calls.

Because again, we cannot engage in discussions in Washington, D.C., without your support. We need those unrestricted donations, now.

On behalf of all CFJC staff and volunteers, thank you for your personal commitment to the health and well-being of your community, and of communities across the country.

Remember, even if you cannot travel to Sacramento or D.C. to make your voice heard, we can do so if you will help. So please, if you are at all able, please click on this link to make a contribution to the Community Food and Justice Coalition, so that we can continue to speak out and work on your behalf.

Thank you.

Best wishes.

YAN e-sig




Executive Director

Community Food and Justice Coalition

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CFJC promotes the basic human right to healthy food while advancing social, agricultural, environmental and economic justice. Through advocacy, organizing and education, we collaborate with community-based efforts to create a sustainable food supply. We envision a food system in which all activities, from farm to table, are equitable, healthful, regenerative and community-driven.

If you believe in these principles JOIN CFJC NOW.

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