Friday, April 01, 2005

Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga, villain

In their fight to protect industrial-farming interests in their home states, GOP congressmen and senators are predictably targeting food-aid programs for poor people, as well as sustainable-ag programs.

Here is an AP article documenting this sordid behavior. GW Bush, constrained by costly foreign adventures, has been forced into the politically unpalatable position of having to ask Congress to cut agricultural subsidies, the great bulk of which go to vast-scale commodity farms, a great many of them in the GOP-controlled heartland.

That won't do, retort GOP worthies on the Hill. According to the AP article:

Instead, Republican committee chairmen are looking to carve savings from nutrition and land conservation programs that are also run by the Agriculture Department. The government is projected to spend $52 billion this year on nutrition programs like food stamps, school lunches and special aid to low-income pregnant women and children. Farm subsidies will total less than half that, $24 billion.

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., said the $36 billion food stamp program is a good place to look for savings.

Chambliss--who carries water for the well-heeled Georgia cotton farmers who are dumping their cheap subsidized cotton throughout the world, to disasterous effect for African cotton farmers--added that, "There's not the waste, fraud and abuse in food stamps that we used to see. … That number is down to a little over 6 percent now ... But there is a way, just by utilizing the president's numbers, that we can come up with a significant number there."

Normally, I oppose corporal punishment in all forms; this man, however, deserves to be horse-whipped. So-called conservatives of this ilk have never met a welfare program they didn't like, as long as it benefits a potential donor.

Meanwhile, I learn from the fine blog Four Seasons that these same scoundrels on the Hill are also defunding a farm-to-school program that would give schools grants to:

purchase adequate equipment to store and prepare fresh foods, develop vendor relationships with nearby farmers, plan seasonal menus and promotional materials, and develop experiential nutrition education related to agriculture.
[Quote from the Community Food Security Coalition.]

The program, which was voted into law in 2004 but never funded, would require $5 million "to get off the ground," Four Seasons reports. Keep in mind that Georgia's ten biggest cotton farmers gained that in subsidies in 2003 alone.

Clearly, the way forward is to spend the government's entire farm-subsidy budget--estimated this year to be $24 billion--on programs that develop sustainable local food systems and link small farmers with low-income consumers through farm-to-school and other programs.

And Chambliss? Once he's had his horse-whipping, let's send him to Africa to explain to cotton farmers there why he's worked so hard to wreck their livelihoods.


Blogger avril said...

Found your blog via Marie at Blue Ridge Blogs. I'm from Boone but live in Asheville now. I went to college in Macon Georgia and HATED Saxby, whom I waited on regularly at the restaurant where I worked. One of my poli-sci profs dubbed him "Laxby Shambles."

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