The 2007 Farm Bill: How it Affects Poor People Worldwide

A group of villagers working on soil bunding, near Harar. Photo by CRS staff.

As Congress develops the 2007 Farm Bill over the next few months, it has the opportunity to make sure that U.S. global food aid programs feed more people, helping them to be less vulnerable to emergencies and — ultimately — rise out of poverty.

Catholics and other people of good will throughout the United States are advocating for 2007 Farm Bill policies that further reduce hunger and poverty both in the United States and abroad. The 2007 Farm Bill will govern U.S. agricultural policy at home and abroad for the next five years and is the main vehicle that structures U.S. Food Aid programs. As a part of a broad Catholic effort to address a range of concerns about the Farm Bill, Catholic Relief Services is
calling for Congress to change policies that have driven down the food available for assistance, ultimately leading to cuts in important hunger programs worldwide.


Ethiopia is one country where much of CRS’ work is focused on food security. Here is a snapshot of some programming in Ethiopia to highlight the importance of food aid around the world.

CRS Ethiopia has been supporting relief and development in Ethiopia since 1958. In Ethiopia, drought and poor land quality often spell agricultural disaster for people trying to earn a meager livelihood from herding and farming among the country’s deforested hillsides. While the distribution of U.S. food aid helps people make it through food emergencies, it is development programs such as those funded by the U.S. Title II Food for Peace program that help communities escape hunger altogether.

Food for Work is an activity supported by U.S. Title II funding. People receive food supplies for the work they contribute to programs that help their communities develop. In the steep rolling hillsides that surround Legedini village in the Diocese of Harar, for example, village residents built by hand many of the low stone walls that climb the terraced hillsides. They were paid for their labor by U.S. Title II food aid.

Terraced hillside outside of Dira Dawa. Photo by CRS staff.

Once the site of regular erosion, the now terraced hillsides are part of a soil- management approach called “soil bunding.” The terraces catch fertile soil as it washes from the top of the hills, providing richer soil in which to grow crops and animal feed. It is just one part of a large integrated program that bring numerous villages together to create better farmland, cleaner water sources, better community health practices and more lucrative markets for their crops.

Committees of villagers who live in a watershed district are involved in each phase of the program, which tackles the root causes of ill health, hunger and poverty in these Ethiopian communities. Managed by CRS and its partner, the Ethiopian Catholic Church, these integrated development programs run five years. When finished, the resulting water and agricultural projects, community health efforts and economic development programs are run and managed entirely by the communities that helped develop them, and which continue to benefit from them.

Currently in Ethiopia, the Development Assistance Program aims at addressing the root causes of poverty with a strategy based on watershed management, which looks to integrate other activities including: agriculture; natural-resource management; health and nutrition; and water and sanitation. Directly, this program serves more than 178,000 participants, while benefiting more than 890,000 people.

As CRS works on the Farm Bill in upcoming months, we will be calling upon our network of supporters to contact their elected officials to help shape a Farm Bill that best serves the needs of the poor overseas.

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One Response to “The 2007 Farm Bill: How it Affects Poor People Worldwide”

  1. iCasad: News Says:

    […] in a global market when their produce isn’t subsidized. I would really encourage you to learn about these issues and to contact your Senators about the Farm Bill to let them know your […]

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