"FOR I WAS HUNGRY AND YOU GAVE ME FOOD"
Catholic Reflections on Food, Farmers, and Farmworkers*
Agriculture touches all our lives. The questions and choices in the world of agriculture have fundamental ethical and human dimensions.
The bishops challenge a lack of awareness on the part of our Church and our nation."They focus on the ethics of how food and fiber are produced, how land is protected, and how agriculture is structured; compensated, and regulated to serve the common good."
The central focus of the moral examination is on the life and dignity of the human person as the pivot of any moral examination. Linked to that focus are key principles such as the social nature of each person, a commitment to the common good, the recognition of the family as the foundation of society, the principle of solidarity, the integrity of creation, the option for the poor. In the light of these principles the bishops recommit themselves to advocate for policies that encourage family farming on a human scale, rights of workers to safe working conditions, decent wages and benefits, the right to organize, farming as a way of life and as a vocation.
Building upon these principles the bishops advocate a global food system that provides basic nutrition for all. Food security is the term normally used here. Every person has the right to food.
Farming practices should protect the air, land and water as well as to provide wholesome food. Sustainability is the term normally used here. Sustainable agriculture is a priority of the bishops' policies.
Agricultural policies should help insure basic income security. A just price for their work is a priority for the bishops.
Economic development in rural communities should be the focus of public policy. Public policies should encourage a wide variety of economic development strategies in rural areas. Family farming should be a part of the strategy for rural development.
Caring for God's creation is a central calling for believers. Agricultural and food policies should reward practices that protect human life, encourage soil conservation, improve water quality, protect wildlife and maintain the diversity of the ecosystem. Widespread participation and dialogue in the development of agricultural policies should be encouraged. People have a right to shape their own lives and livelihoods.
*"For I Was Hungry and You Gave Me Food" (Mt. 25:35), United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Statement approved in November, 2003. to order, call toll-free 1-800-235-8722. Copyright 2003, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. All rights reserved.