Calls Needed Now to Congress: An alert from the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition

HOUSE AND SENATE LEADERS WRITING FINAL ECONOMIC RECOVERY PACKAGE NOW: ACT TODAY TO SUPPORT SUSTAINABLE FOOD AND AGRICULTURE PRIORITIES

Leaders of the House and Senate are already meeting to work out the differences between their respective economic recovery bills, even as the Senate moves toward final passage of its version Tuesday morning. Both the House and Senate bills spend over $800 billion to help pull the country out of recession, but there are very significant differences between the bills that have to be worked out before final passage. Congress aims to have the final version of the bill finished and sent to the President yet this week.

Please call your Member of Congress now. Dial the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 225-3121 and ask to be connected to the office of your Representative. If you have trouble reaching the switchboard, you can find the direct line for your Representative here. http://ncsa.convio.net/site/R?i=kXnzkFpHfiBT_BpMzeaSmw..

The message is simple. Once connected, leave a message with the person answering the phone telling them you are a constituent, that you support the economic recovery bill but that you urge them to support the Senate version of the bill on two specific Department of Agriculture items: funding for the WIC program and funding for farm loans.

Additional Information. Two issues in particular loom large in the House-Senate conference committee for sustainable food and agriculture activists. We support:

1. The $500 million in the Senate bill for the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) feeding program rather than the $100 million in the House bill. Regular WIC funding this year has run short, so the extra money in the recovery bill is needed to address hunger and nutrition and also to ensure that Congress isn’t forced to rob farm bill conservation, renewable energy, organic, beginning farmer, and healthy food programs in the agriculture appropriations bill for 2009 (the next order of business for Congress) in order to make up for the WIC shortfall. Even more is needed than the Senate figure if WIC is to be fully funded without cuts to the other programs, so it is very important that there is no deal to compromise with the House number. The $500 million should be the minimum acceptable number.

2. The $650 million worth of farm loans funded by the Senate bill to help keep family farms in business during the financial collapse. As underwriting standards tighten and credit dries up, more farmers will turn to government loans and government guarantees of private commercial loans to finance their operations. USDA predicts that $650 million is the minimum extra funding that will be needed in the coming 18 months. The House bill does not include any funding for farm loans. The extra loan money in the Senate bill would help keep existing family farming operations in business, with significant shares of the total specifically directed toward beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.

Remember, the bill will likely be finalized before the end of the week, and then be sent to the President for his signature. Act now! After you call, pass this message on to others too!

National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition 110 Maryland Ave. Suite 209 Washington DC 20002 ph: 202-547-5754 http://www.sustainableagriculturecoalition.org

About 4thstreetfoodcoop

The 4th Street Food Co-op comprises a community of people who care about food and its production, and who have made our store a place where shoppers can get healthy, high-quality ethically produced food. Completely member-run, we carry a range of fresh produce as well as bulk and packaged goods, with many locally produced items. All products are completely vegetarian, almost all products are organic or better, and we avoid buying products from companies owned by transnational corporations. As a non-profit co-op, we can offer some of the most competitive prices in the area. Members get discounts, but anyone is free to shop!
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