Looking for a responsible, moral and effective response to the global food crisis?
Start by sending money to a group that is working to get food to starving people. I’m especially impressed with the savvy approaches of Friends of the World Food Program.
Then support the work of smart groups such as the National Family Farm Coalition to change failed U.S. policies that harm farmers and consumers in the U.S. and around the world.
The National Family Farm Coalition has for years been warning that a global trading system designed to enrich agribusiness conglomerates while undermining the interests of working farmers in the U.S. and abroad would lead to precisely the disaster that is now unfolding.
And they’ve proposed the right response: a food a fair food system that ensures health, justice, and dignity for all by assuring the basic right of communities to choose where and how their food is produced and what food they consume. The international campaign for this new approach is known as the Food Sovereignty Movement, and the NFFC has worked hard to build support in the U.S. for it as an urgently necessary step to avoid catastrophe.
Unfortunately, the Bush administration and most members of Congress were not interested when steps could have been taken to avert the hunger tsunami that has hit much of the developing world.
Now, the question is whether Congress will finally start listening to the anticipated the current crisis — which has spread to more than three dozen countries, most of them in Africa but some as close as Haiti — and who are proposing an immediate and important policy response for the U.S. and other countries.
An NFFC letter to Congress, which will be issued Tuesday, calls for a small but vital step by the U.S. — the establishment of a Strategic Grain Reserve as a buffer against price shocks — and by extension encourages recognition by U.S. officials of the need for a reversal of trade policies that have pressured countries around the world to abandon programs designed to maintain food stocks as a guard against the price volatility that is currently spreading hunger and instability across the globe.
In the U.S., the misguided policies of the Bill Clinton administration and the Republican Congresses of the 1990s — as exemplified by the 1996 “Freedom to Farm Act” — eliminated historic food-security provisions and handed over control of grain stocks to corporate agribusiness giants and commodities speculators.