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Farm Bill Conservation Event: Advocating for food security and climate action

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Farm Bill Conservation Event: Advocating for food security and climate action

News Story by Mary Feusner | FāVS News

Faith Action Network and Evangelical Lutheran Church in America are coming together to host the event, “Farm Bill Conservation: Why is the Farm Bill important to us?”

According to ELCA’s hunger advocacy fellow at FAN, Tomo Duke, when the hunger advocacy leaders of the northwestern synods of America met in February to discuss ways in which people of faith could collaborate in a wide network, they landed on the farm bill.  

“I thought it was a great way for people to unite and learn about how to connect faith and advocacy. Especially considering feeding ministry and the sharing of food has been a long lasted part of how communities express their faith,” Duke said. 

The World Hunger Department of the ELCA distributes grants for congregations to do feeding ministry and advocacy both internationally and domestically, Duke said. 

The conversation will be held from 6-7:30 p.m., June 13, online. 

Duke said it will be online so that it is accessible to everyone across the Northwest.

Breakdown of what to expect

tomo duke
Photo of Tomo Duke, ELCA’s hunger advocacy fellow at FAN. / Contributed

According to Duke, the meeting will include an informational presentation on the farm bill. There will be time for prayer and words of reflection led by the ELCA bishops in attendance.

Six speakers from all walks of life will have the opportunity to share stories about how their lives have been affected by the farm bill. Attendees will have the chance to join breakout rooms for group discussions on the sections of the bill the ELCA is prioritizing. The leaders will also assist the attendees in writing letters to Congress. 

There are four sections of the farm bill the ELCA is prioritizing during the meeting: strengthening the nutrition assistance program domestically and abroad, supporting rural and family farming communities, inclusion of marginalized voices, such as migrant farm workers and addressing climate concerns, Duke said.

According to Allison Kies, co-chair of the Southwestern Synod Hunger Committee, these topics will be the focus of the breakout rooms. There will be a speaker specialized in each topic to help inform and navigate the discussions. 

Fostering a deeper respect of food and its system

Kies said the speakers will include, Alex Parker from the ELCA Washington, D.C., office, Didi Smith a dietitian based out of Olympia, Ryan Laurance, young adult representative for the northwest intermountain synod and a farmer from Orofino, Idaho, Bishop Meggan Manlove, Sen. Ron Muzzall and Craig Cogger, a scientist who specializes in climate change. 

“I am really hoping that a deeper sense of respect and appreciation for food and the whole system will come alive through this event,” Duke said. 

According to Washington’s Department of Fish and Wildlife, the farm bill was created in 1933 by Congress in response to the Dust Bowl. It is federal legislation that funds a variety of U.S. food and agricultural policies. 

The farm bill provides an opportunity for policymakers to periodically address agricultural and food issues. The bill is typically renewed every five years, according to Congressional Research Service.

Duke stated it is uncertain whether Congress will authorize a newly written farm bill or extend the current bill another year. The current bill was written in 2018, therefore, extending it would not reflect the current state of the country. 

“Since 2018, food prices and housing costs have risen. Climate change is increasingly affecting agricultural practices,” Duke said. 

Possible changes to Farm Bill

With the farm bill expiring in September, the Senate and the House recently released their proposals for the new bill. Some of the House’s proposals would result in a $30 billion cut to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program over the next decade, Duke said. 

There is a trickle down impact the budget cut would have on the programs and policies that FAN advocates for on the state level, Duke said. 

According to Washington’s Department of Fish and Wildlife, “Today, the farm bill is the largest source of funding for conservation on private lands.” 

Farm bill funding is often an integral part of partnerships that bring together producers, non-governmental organizations, tribes and local, state and federal agencies. 

The majority of attendees registered are from Washington. However, leaders hope to see more involvement with the other states in Region 1, Duke said.

The ELCA places their congregations into groups called Synods. Each Synod is created based on its regional location.

According to Duke, Synod Region 1 includes congregations in Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Alaska and Wyoming. 

“It is so critical that we connect God and politics together in this way because we are fighting for people to have access to food,” Kies said. 

Those interested can register online.

Mary Feusner
Mary Feusner
Mary Feusner is a senior at Washington State University, pursuing a degree in Multimedia Journalism. Her passion for history and religions, which began when she was a child, along with a class taught by Tracy Simmons at WSU, led to her initial interest in religion journalism. Beyond writing, Mary has a love for reading and collecting fiction novels. She currently serves as a student ambassador for the Edward R. Murrow College of Communications at WSU. She is eager to gain experience in journalism and make meaningful contributions to the field. She is excited for the opportunity to learn from the dedicated journalists at FāVS News.

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Walter A Hesford
Walter A Hesford
13 days ago

Thank you for alerting us to this important opportunity. It is especially important for those who live in Idaho to learn about the Farm Bill and contact our legislators to support measures that help farmers, our Idaho population, and the hungry of the world.

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