Just before writing this, I found myself engulfed in a Lifetime Movie, and like every Lifetime movie I’ve ever seen, I’m reminded that no one is immune to a tragic fall. We’re all one lay-off, one car accident, one divorce or one terrible addiction away from losing the “stable” homes that we work so tirelessly to build. Yet somehow, many of us are blinded to the fact that the Big Bad Wolf of “Life” is prowling just outside of our “perfect” little straw homes…poised and ready to blow it down.
As I think about the Farm Bill that was scheduled to be passed December 13th, but was post-poned until January due to the inability of Congress to come to an agreement, I can’t help but think how detached our government is from the wide reaching effects of their decisions… and indecisions in the basic livelihood of citizens. In fact, Speaker John Boehner was quoted recently saying “I’ve made it very clear that the house is going to [recess Friday, December 13th]. And you know me pretty well: I mean what I say and I say what I mean.” But shouldn’t there be some consideration given to citizens, who over the remainder of this holiday season, will be concerned as to whether the SNAP program will be reduced by 4 billion or 40 billion over the course of the next 10 years? Especially when the most recent cuts made the following impact on children and elders in Illinois:
Projected SNAP Recipients in Fiscal Year 2014 – $2,031,000
Percent of Population: 16%
Average Benefit Per Household in Fiscal Year 2012- $285
Total Snap Benefit Cut to State – $220,000,000
Children Affected: 886,000
Elderly or People With Disabilities Affected- 349,000
Click here to find out how the proposed cuts will effect the residents of your state.
…and just in case you were thinking the most recent SNAP cuts only affected the most urban and multi-cultural citizens in our society, a segment on NPR that aired on November 17th, 2013 entitled “See How Food Stamp Cuts are Hitting Across the U.S.,” highlighted the state of Oregon, which it identified as a place that makes you think of “organic chicken, kale chips and other signs of a strong local food movement.” Yet 21% of Oregon residents (1 in 5) are food stamp recipients, and due to the recent reduction are now purchasing less milk and limiting their meat purchases!
Even Farmers are hoping for a bit of peace of mind in the passing of this bill. A recent conversation with a local Illinois Farmer revealed that he’s just looking for a “basic safety net” so that he can have the proper insurance coverage he needs should his fields yield less crops next season due to Illinois’ temperamental weather.
He went on to address the grumblings surrounding the concerns that SNAP and Farming share the same bill. In his opinion, without SNAP on the bill, Farm policies would be totally overlooked. After all, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency “there are over 313,000,000 people living in the United States. Of that population, less than 1% claim farming as an occupation.” However, it’s this 1% of the population that is sustaining human life…so shouldn’t this wheel always be greased?
Nelson Mandela so appropriately stated that “A Nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but it’s lowest ones.” And judging by our current state of affairs regarding healthcare and now food and nutrition benefits coupled with farming support, wouldn’t you say that our nation should be judged pretty harshly?
So as Congress dismisses for the holiday season to break bread and enjoy holiday cheer with their respective families and friends, my hope is that they’ll return renewed and ready to make positive change for our country…not just for the highest in power and pay, but for those of us who need it most.
What are your thoughts on the Farm Bill?
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