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The Physicians Committee

Medical Professionals, Senators Call for Major Changes to Farm Bill

With the Farm Bill being debated on the Senate floor this week and next, more than 700 oncologists, pediatricians, and other health professionals have signed petitions circulated by PCRM and The Cancer Project calling on lawmakers to reform farm subsidies and food assistance programs to put good nutrition at the forefront of the battle against cancer and other diet-related diseases.

PCRM member doctor Ana Negrón has been active in helping to reform the Farm BillThe Farm Bill is a massive piece of legislation that greatly determines what foods are grown and eaten in the United States and what foods are served in the National School Lunch Program and other federal assistance programs. Unfortunately, the Farm Bill favors the production of unhealthy foods—nearly three-quarters of all subsidies for food production go to alcohol, sugar, oil, meat, dairy, and feed crops. Less than half of 1 percent subsidizes fruits and vegetables. The petitions—modeled on similar statements from the American Medical Association and the President’s Cancer Panel—say subsidies and nutrition programs should support and promote foods low in fat and cholesterol.

Several senators are also calling for major changes. The FRESH Act, a proposal to reform the Farm Bill introduced to the Senate on October 23 by Sens. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) and Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), would improve access to healthy food by removing incentives for farmers to grow animal feed, likely reducing the costs of fresh fruits and vegetables. The FRESH Act would also increase funding for a wide array of smart initiatives, including farm-to-school programs, farmers’ markets, fruit and vegetable promotion, and the Fruit and Vegetable Snack Program that provides free, healthy snacks to school kids across around the country.

Call your senators today and ask them to vote for the FRESH Act. Subsidies for meat, cheese, and other fatty foods foster the epidemics of childhood obesity,diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Senators now have the chance to place a vote for healthier foods and healthier kids.

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PCRM Online, November 2007

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