On Tuesday, May 15th, Amy Luebbert and I (Lance Massey) took to Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. as a part of the 6th Annual Oxfam Action Corps training. Our last day of the training was reserved for these lobby visits; the prior days were reserved for policy training and organizer training. That is, those days were for improving our leadership skills so we have more resources to spread the word about combating global poverty.
So, that morning, we "dusted off" our nerves (because we wanted the meetings to go really well!) and after weeks of planning, sat down with congressional staffers representing Senators Harkin and Grassley and Congressman Boswell and exercised one of our fundamental democratic rights.
After introductions, we moved the conversation into why we were there: fixing food aid (or at least, making reforms to food aid). You see, the 2012 Farm Bill had just moved from the Senate Ag Committee and it was a prime opportunity to let our elected representatives know that these issues are important to Iowans. Our conversation had two highlights: 1) increase the use of LRP - local and regional procurement and 2) reduce the practice of "monetization" in global food markets. The link below is the longer version of what we were explaining. But, in short, the conversation was about how to squeeze the most efficiency out of every taxpayer dollar and, in the end, help make emergency food aid delivery faster and give it the ability to reach more people. Up to 17 million more! And without spending any extra money!
We had great conversations and felt very encouraged by much of what the staffers had to share with us - especially about certain provisions that did make it into at least the early versions of the 2012 Farm Bill (hooray!) regarding greater use of LRP and adjustments to the use of monetization.
We don't expect food aid to be perfect but positive, common-sense steps are always a treat!
This picture is from our visit with Katy Siddall (from Congressman Boswell's office). From left to right: Lance Massey, Katy Siddall, Amy Luebbert.