Beyond Our Borders: A Strong U.S. Farm Bill Has Global Implications

July 21, 2007

All too often we hear from self-anointed advocates who claim that U.S. farm policies contribute to poverty around the world. Yet they consistently ignore the real experts on global issues calling for the very same policies those naysayers are predisposed to reject. Moreover, rarely, if ever, does the media focus attention on the international organizations and developing countries that support strong domestic farm policies.

A strong U.S. farm policy is more than just critical to feeding Americans-it has beneficial implications that extend well beyond U.S. borders. In the global arena, a strong domestic farm policy provides opportunities for developing nations to help pull them out of poverty.

Just ask Paul Ryberg of the International Sugar Trade Coalition, a group representing 17 developing nations from Belize to Fiji to Swaziland. He has been a long-time supporter of maintaining the type of strong sugar program found in the House version of the 2007 farm bill.

“Our coalition members depend upon a strong U.S. sugar policy. Our sugar exports to the U.S. create vital jobs and revenue in poor countries, and we are urging Congress to maintain a strong sugar program,” he recently said at the American Sugar Alliance’s 24th International Sweetener Symposium.

And the importance of a strong farm policy goes well beyond a single commodity or country. On an even larger scale, FINCA International-a leading international microfinance organization that provides financial services to the world’s lowest-income entrepreneurs on four continents-is calling upon its members to contact the Senate Agriculture Committee in support of “an important funding source for microfinance and development practitioners worldwide.”

According to the organization, “FINCA’s programs currently receive critical funding from US Government food aid programs that allows us to reach out to the vulnerable poor working in rural areas around the world…urge your Senator to support the Farm Bill.”

FINCA should know how important the farm bill can be. In the organization’s 20 years it has targeted “the poorest of the working poor” and its clients “include women, who make up 70 percent of the world’s poor; individuals unable to find work in the formal sector; families displaced by war and internal conflict; the rural poor; and those affected by chronic poverty.” Learn more about FINCA’s support of the farm bill here.

The farm bill, as passed by the House, strikes the perfect balance between vital farm, conservation, and nutrition programs. It not only sustains jobs at home but also helps build economic opportunities and create hope in developing nations where it’s sometimes nowhere to be found.