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Farm Bill, Food Stamps & Getting By

August 14, 2012

More and more I’m seeing familiar things come up from my book “Getting By: Lessons From a Rural Past.” Politicians debate the farm bill, consumers want to cut large chunks out of rich farmer bailouts. Unfortunately most don’t understand that 80% of that farm bill is really a food bill. In the US 1 of 7 people are on food assistance. A post today from a friend told a story of taking food stamps during a time of needing a hand up. There is no shame in taking a hand up. We all need it from time to time. What do you do when it doesn’t come?

Last winter I applied, in a downturn of economy, for one of those hand ups to get us through a few months low time. We were denied. With 1 out of 7 on food stamps, with some of those millionaire lottery winners, we were denied because of not being able to prove income, in particular $30/month that I claimed from Yahoo articles (dating back before yahoo had anything to do with it). So we get “not qualifying” when in need.

It was the driving force behind the idea for food sponsors. For those who can’t afford food, a sponsor could provide funds for us to make a living and provide for someone who didn’t have food. We thought it was a way some could spread what they believed in – food choices – and benefit others. A few have taken us up on it, but not nearly as many as say they support food choices.

It’s embarrassing to not be able to afford the basics. It’s tough to get the basics covered (and that varies with many views!) but not having enough for a decent pair of shoes for a conference. After all the chickens and rabbits don’t care what I wear but people do. It’s hard asking for that outlay but the alternative – not having it or someone/something doing without eating – and I won’t do that if I have to go barefoot.

So I get the sentiment behind such posts. What I don’t get is the hostility and blaming farmers for wanting to make a decent living. Rich farmers…where?! Some are perhaps more financially stable if a good year than others, but it’s a tough call.

Food is too important to be used as a weapon or something that can be withheld. No one should go hungry, but as I said yesterday I think it’s fixin’ to get worse. I hope I’m wrong.

But I don’t think I am.

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