PCRM Supporters Bring Support, Publicity to Farm Bill Issues
With pressure mounting for reform, the Farm Bill is still awaiting a vote in Congress. PCRM and its supporters are making sure that the problems with this legislative bonanza for Tyson Foods and other meat companies are at the forefront of discussion in newspapers, on television, and on the Senate floor. A growing number of observers are questioning why the Farm Bill provides taxpayer-funded subsidies for meat, sugar, and other unhealthy foods, while fruits and vegetables receive little support.
In October, more than 700 oncologists, pediatricians, and other health professionals signed petitions circulated by PCRM and The Cancer Project calling on lawmakers to reform farm subsidies and food assistance programs to put good nutrition at the forefront of the battle against cancer and other diet-related diseases. Major newspapers across the country featured letters to their editors and opinion pieces by PCRM experts and member doctors explaining how the Farm Bill’s subsidies for meat, dairy, and other high-fat foods are harming the health of Americans.
PCRM’s celebrity supporters have also joined in the effort. Actress Alicia Silverstone recorded a voicemail message about the FRESH Amendment that was sent to thousands of people. The FRESH Amendment, a proposal to reform the Farm Bill, was introduced to the Senate on October 23 by Sens. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) and Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) and would improve access to healthy food by removing taxpayer-funded incentives for farmers to grow animal feed, likely reducing the costs of fresh fruits and vegetables. An Associated Press piece about Silverstone’s voice message ran in USA Today, The Miami Herald, The Salt Lake Tribune, and other national papers.
Silverstone, Kevin Nealon, Bill Maher, Moby, and Peter Max all signed letters to Sen. Tom Harkin, chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee. The letters asked Sen. Harkin to support cuts in subsidies to unhealthy foods and promote production of fruits and vegetables. Roll Call covered Nealon's letter and explained that as a new parent, he is concerned about issues such as school lunch and childhood obesity.
Actor and two-time PCRM gala host Alec Baldwin wrote letters to Sens. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) asking them to vote against the current version of the Farm Bill. "As you are well aware, the epidemic of childhood obesity is worsening day by day, leading to higher risks of diabetes, heart disease and several forms of cancer," Baldwin wrote. "I know that you share my concern about this crucial issue."
Maher, host of Real Time with Bill Maher, also wrote to his senators, Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). Maher noted that despite America’s wealth, the country ranks 38th in life expectancy, partly due to the unhealthy foods Americans eat and high death rates from chronic diseases related to overweight and obesity.
Congress will likely come back to the Farm Bill after the winter recess. To get the latest information and learn how you can help, visit www.pcrm.org.