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Faith, the Environment, and the Farm Bill

Most faith groups support strong environmental protection as part of our charge to be good stewards of what God has created - nature. Jewish. The Torah (the Five Books of Moses) opens with a clear statement about God's relationship to the Earth - "In the beginning of God's creating the heavens and the earth..." The formation of the Earth is a matter of Divine concern, and therefore the preservation of that Earth must also be a matter of Divine concern. In the Garden of Eden God said to humanity, "See My works, how beautiful and praiseworthy they are. Everything I have created has been created for your sake. Think of this, and do not corrupt or destroy My world; for if you corrupt it, there will be no one to set it right after you" (Ecclesiastes Rabbah, Chapter 7, Section 13). We are heirs of Bal Tashchit , an environmental ethic that ever commands us to preserve and not to destroy God's world. Catholic. “We cannot interfere in one area of the ecosystem without paying due attention both to the consequences of such interference in other areas and to the well-being of future generations. Today, the dramatic threat of ecological breakdown is teaching us the extent to which greed and selfishness – both individual and collective – are contrary to the order of creation, an order which is characterized by mutual interdependence.” Pope John Paul II’s The Ecological Crisis: A Common Responsibility Muslim. The Qur’an says that Allah is the Creator of the world. Human beings are on the world as trustees or ‘vice-regents’ - they are told to look after the world for Allah and for the future. In the Qur’an, Muslims are instructed to look after the environment and not to damage it. Devote thyself single-mindedly to the Faith, and thus follow the nature designed by Allah, the nature according to which He has fashioned mankind. There is no altering the creation of Allah. Baptist. “The study of ecology has become a religious, social, and political concern because every area of life is affected by careless use of our environment. We believe that ecology and justice, stewardship of creation, and redemption are interdependent. " The American Baptist Policy Statement on Ecology. Presbyterian. "Earth-keeping today means insisting on sustainability – the ongoing capacity of natural and social systems to thrive together – which requires human beings to practice wise, humble, responsible stewardship, after the model of servanthood that we have in Jesus.” Quakers. “The earth we share is limited in its capacity to support life and to provide resources for our survival. The environment that has provided sustenance for generations must be protected for generations to come. We have an obligation, therefore, to be responsible stewards of the earth, to restore its natural habitat where it has been damaged, and to maintain its vitality. " United Church of Christ. "We believe that our planetary future is radically jeopardized by economic competition and growth unrestrained by a sense of limits about our place in the whole. Our love for our children and our children’s children requires us to raise serious questions about the level and methods of production and the wasteful style of consumption in the United States and other affluent nations and people. We affirm the use of technologies which cooperate with the non-human roots of life on earth, instead of polluting and destroying them."

NYC Food & Farm Bill Working Group http://foodbillnyc.wikispaces.com/ NY Faith & Justice www.nyfaithjustice.org

Environmental Issues in the Farm Bill
To ensure a secure food system today and into the future, we must preserve our vital agricultural soil and water resources, reduce farm and other food-system energy consumption, and practice sustainable agricultural production methods that minimize air and water pollution and improve biodiversity. Our present agricultural system, which relies heavily on chemicals, fossil fuels, and a staggering amount of water, is damaging our environment and our ability to feed ourselves in the future. Our current food system accounts for about 20 percent of our national energy consumption and is a major factor in climate change. According to the National Wildlife Federation, "years of row crop production dependent upon intensive cultivation of the soil has led to considerable soil erosion and with it, nutrient loss from fields into America’s lakes, rivers, and then the oceans into which rivers flow. Vital nutrients often travel with the soil, creating additional problems including the hypoxic zone in the Gulf of Mexico. The use of monoculture cropping techniques, highly dependent on chemicals to protect against competing weeds and insects, have led to growing water quality, biodiversity, and human safety issues. Our present system also contributes to wildlife degradation and greenhouse gas emissions. " While the farm bill is the largest source of federal conservation funding, these funds are being targeted for major cuts as Congress seeks way to cut the federal budget deficit. More funding is needed for programs that protect soil, water and air quality, preserve wildlife habitat and conserve energy and water. The farm bill is the most important federal legislation to promote healthy water in farm country. Farmers are critical to the enormous task of keeping our drinking water clean and our streams healthy. Yet two out of every three farmers who want to ensure our drinking water is free of pollutants are turned away for federal assistance. The farm bill provides two critical opportunities to improve the nation’s drinking water supplies. It must: 1. Honor the conservation compact between farmers and taxpayers. This provision is a safety net for farmers who carry out basic steps to reduce pollution. 2. Strengthen and adequately fund conservation programs that share the cost of additional land management practices that keep water clean. Environmentalists want a well-funded Conservation Title supporting working lands and grassland conservation, watershed and farmland preservation, and sustainable agriculture. They support re-aligning a portion subsidies to programs that reward farmers and ranchers for the environmental and climate benefits delivered by their farming systems and practices. Conservation compliance measures should be re-linked to crop insurance programs to ensure that recipients are achieving basic soil and water resource protection. The farm bill should also be stronger in promoting organic, sustainable methods of production. Many environmentalist oppose the promotion of genetically engineered foods in the Farm Bill.

NYC Food & Farm Bill Working Group http://foodbillnyc.wikispaces.com/ NY Faith & Justice www.nyfaithjustice.org