Valley News Forum for May 30, 2023: Farm Bill is a chance to change our food system

Published: 05-30-2023 6:02 AM

Farm Bill is a chance to change our food system

The Farm Bill is up this year for deliberation. It is voted on every five years. It is our nation’s most important food system legislation. The Farm Bill impacts all of us, especially we who live in rural states such as Vermont and New Hampshire.

This legislation can build a more equitable, sustainable and healthy food system.

From a health standpoint, we need to increase access to more fresh fruits and vegetables, by supporting a produce specific Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), allowing recipients to purchase more fresh fruits and vegetables at farmers markets and eliminating barriers to SNAP for our marginalized populations.

From a sustainability standpoint, not all food systems are created equal. Food systems that are of industrial scale can be major contributors to global climate change and cause environmental degradation.

One sustainability concern is food waste: One-third of all food produced in U.S. goes to waste, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. We need to increase efforts to keep food waste out of landfills by increasing support for post-harvest food recovery efforts.

And finally, equity. Food inequity prevents many individuals from reaching their full potential both at home and abroad. Food policy made in the U.S., can have profound effects throughout the world; both for the good, or bad, making food insecurity, or food scarcity worse. I mentioned the domestic food program SNAP, and an example of an effective international food aid program, is the Food for Peace program. This program directs the U.S. government to purchase food produced in the U.S., and then donate that food to qualified international organizations, who distribute to those in need. It can also be used to purchase food from local and regional markets to enable people to resume growing their own food.

We can all make a difference; we can all do our part. I am asking you to take the time to contact your representatives and senators, concerning public policies which will affect us, and our neighbors. Bread for the World, an ecumenical anti-poverty advocacy organization, has a sample electronic letter which you can personalize and send to our legislators. Just go to the link It is easy to do and impactful.

Paul Manganiello

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Cognitive dissonance on the other side

William Wittik (“Cognitive dissonance on abortion,” May 8) and other anti-choice people are trying in any way they can to reframe a question that most (in his words) “normally intelligent,” pro-choice people thought had been settled 50 years ago: Do women have agency over their own bodies? Or does the government?

I hope Mr. Wittik will acknowledge that the cognitive dissonance around the abortion issue cuts both ways. Many “normally intelligent” anti-choice folks who insist that the joining together of two cells immediately results in a “person” act as if that “person” is more sacred than the actual person who may suffer injury or death during pregnancy. And sadly, many of the same people who revered the “person” in the womb won’t care so much about it once it is actually born. Just look at their miserly approach to things like public education and universal health care.

And this week, on May 24, the first anniversary of the Uvalde, Texas, school massacre I am moved to ask: What kind of cognitive dissonance leads normally intelligent people to be both anti-choice and pro-guns? There are now 14 states where abortion is not available at all. Thirteen of those states received an “F” grade from Giffords Law Center, which rated all states for safety from gun death based on statistics from the CDC. How do pro-lifers answer the parents of the children who died that day? So sorry for your loss? Thoughts and prayers? Don’t worry, you can always have another baby?

I know. People like me are inconsistent, too. That’s probably because we tend to think that being pro-choice is not necessarily true/false, but more like an essay question. How about if we somehow find middle ground and at least commit to taking better care of the kids who are already here?

Rebecca K. Paquette


Just the facts on gun deaths

According to the Gun Violence Archive, as of May 23, there had been 16,680 gun-related deaths in the U.S. in 2023.

Of those:

■ 7,242 were homicides

■ 9,438 were suicides

■ 105 were children under age 11

■ 599 were children between 12 and 17

Only 437 of the total gun deaths were committed in self-defense.

Charlie Buttrey


Name-calling doesn’t help

I believe the need for tighter gun control measures in the U.S. has never been greater.

The writer of the letter “Thoughts on guns” in the May 22 edition of the Valley News recommends that lawmakers who accept money from the NRA should be voted out of office, and goes on to say that “this will be difficult, especially in the South, where the idiot gene seems to thrive.”

There are many people in the South who support gun control. Such name-calling does nothing to advance progressive policies.

Kay Hillinger