Call on Congress to support food programs
As a result of the Nov. 1 cut to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, 47 million Americans just saw a decrease in their monthly food assistance, and food banks are bracing for even higher need.
At the same time, the cost of doing business for food banks increased, creating a perfect storm for hunger-relief charities.
Grocery prices grew 7.4 percent, and gas prices rose 30.5 percent over the last two years. Rising food and fuel costs make it harder to purchase and distribute food.
The fact that federal food bank support through the Emergency Food Assistance Program also declined over this period has only made things harder.
That is why we are pleased that the House farm bill includes an additional $300 million in emergency food program commodities.
But this increase is not enough to make up for the declines we have experienced in recent years, let alone the increased demand that will be created by the cuts to SNAP included in the same bill.
Together the enacted and proposed SNAP cuts would result in 3.4 billion lost meals for hungry families in 2014 alone, which is more than the meal distribution of the entire network of Feeding America food banks nationwide.
This holiday, in addition to volunteering and donations, there is another important way you can help needy families in our community. Tell our members of Congress to protect hunger-relief programs in the farm bill.
CEO, God's Pantry Food Bank
Give thanks to the farmer
On Thanksgiving Day, many of us gather and give thanks for our families, our friends, our jobs and our health. This year, I hope you add to that list and take a moment to thank a farmer.
The modern American farmer is a miracle of productivity and efficiency. The average farmer feeds 155 people. American consumers spend, on average, about 10 percent of their income on food, the lowest percentage of any country.
The farmer is at the mercy of weather, politics, policy, trade issues and any number of other big-picture factors that can affect the profitability of agriculture.
President John F. Kennedy put it well when he said: "The farmer is the only man in our economy who buys everything at retail, sells everything at wholesale, and pays the freight both ways."
Farming is one of the most dangerous occupations in America and the farmer faces the risk of injury from machinery, livestock and many other hazards. An injury or illness can sideline a farmer for weeks or months, putting the farm family in danger of financial ruin. The farmer faces all this physical and economic risk for very limited rewards. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says the farm's share of the American food dollar is about 15.5 cents.
And still American farmers carry on, providing us the safest, most abundant and most affordable food supply in the world. They do it for the love of the land and the knowledge that they are following a noble calling.
Kentucky agriculture commissioner
Support local businesses
This Saturday, Nov. 30, is Small Business Saturday. As Kentuckians fill stores this holiday season, I encourage them to look to locally owned businesses as an opportunity to support the local economy and community.
The local family-owned business is the heart of the American dream, the backbone of the American economy and the spirit of American tradition. Our family realized the American dream generations ago with a distillery and Hollenbach Pure Cream Ice Cream.
That was, however, a different time, when discount warehouses and chain stores were not so common. Today, locally owned businesses compete to survive against much greater obstacles.
Like many others, there are times when I find it easier to get the oil changed while buying groceries and getting prescriptions filled all in one stop. But how much of that money stays in our community?
For every $1 spent at a local business, an average of 45 cents is reinvested locally, while corporate chains only invest an average 15 cents locally.
That's money lost toward other local vendors, schools, community parks, libraries, police and fire stations and other important resources we all utilize daily.
In 2010, the only business sector that added jobs in Kentucky was businesses with fewer than 10 employees, adding nearly 8,000 workers. According to the Small Business Administration, businesses with fewer than five employees accounted for the vast majority of that growth.
I want Kentuckians to join me in encouraging local entrepreneurs and supporting our communities with the "Shop Local, Eat Local" initiative.
Letters about candidates in the Dec. 10 special election for the 13th Senate District are limited to 150 words and must be received by 5 p.m. Monday. Letters from candidates, their campaign staffs and family members will not be published.