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Farm bill provides food security for New Mexico families

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As the Farm Bill comes up for renewal in Congress, we are reminded again of its critical importance, not only to the New Mexico delegation, but to the entire House and Senate. Food assistance programs including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) as well as funding for the nation’s food insecurity advocates like Feeding America, which are beacons of hope for countless individuals and families facing food insecurity, are funded through this bill, which also leverages the state funding for these assistance programs.

But in New Mexico, with its rich history of agriculture, the Farm Bill is also a necessity for many small farmers who need assistance with natural and unforeseen crises that affect their business year to year, and help with equipment and new technology.

Here in New Mexico, where cultural heritage and economic disparities intersect, food pantries like ours serve as lifelines, bridging the gap between hunger and sustenance. They live out the motto of Casa de Peregrinos, “Food for Today, Hope for Tomorrow.” In the border region, food insecurity and poverty profoundly impact families and communities who are in urgent need of collective action. In Doña Ana County the poverty level has lingered at around 24% for many years in some areas of the county as high as 40%.

Food banks and food pantries such as ours have a strong intersection with the local agricultural community for fresh produce, not only because we want to purchase locally but also because of the generosity these farmers offer organizations such as ours, with donations and rebates. A robust Farm Bill, driven to improve value added agriculture and a steady food supply chain leads to both a healthy and prosperous local farmer, and food security for hungry families.

Food insecurity is one of the state’s largest social issues because of generational poverty, and legislators and local leaders have long been challenged in addressing it. A strong Farm Bill, which assists food-insecure New Mexicans as well as the New Mexico agricultural community will make a major impact on the lives of thousands of children, seniors, and our Native American neighbors.

I urge not only the New Mexico delegation to pass a Farm Bill that makes sense for not only our country but for our state, which is sensitive to the cultural differences from community to community and honors the unique dietary needs and traditions of these communities.

I ask you, as the Farm Bill comes up for a vote, not to forget the large numbers of food-insecure New Mexicans that all of you serve, as well as the small farmer in Hatch, the farming family in Array, the dairy farmer in Anthony, and the cattle rancher in northern Doña Ana County.

Put them at the forefront of how you vote and how important this bill is to New Mexicans.

This article originally appeared on Las Cruces Sun-News: Farm bill provides food security for New Mexico families