Today, the third Sunday of July, is Farmers' Sunday. The president of the bishops' committee for Justice and Peace issued a message on the theme, "We are Peace Makers and Agents for the Preservation of Creation." The problems facing farmers are many and serious, he said, stressing the importance of choosing an ecological lifestyle and rejecting the consumption-oriented life.
The editorial in the Peace Weekly reports that Korea's rate of food self-sufficiency is 26 percent, needing to import most of its grains. The United States produces enough food to feed itself, and France produces 300 percent of what it needs. Of the countries who are members of OECD, Korea's rating in food self-sufficiency is one of the lowest.
The news that the country is considering using its surplus rice for animal feed is a concern of many different groups in society. Although the rice in reserve is more than adequate to deal with emergency situations, consumption of rice continues to decrease, which poses problems for the country and for farmers.
This is the first time that a government official has publicly announced that excess rice can be given to animals, reflecting the rising cost of maintaining huge stockpiles of the staple grain.
The life-giving farming movement is spreading. But what the Catholic Farming Leagues need more than policy statements are priests who are interested in the problems of farmers. In the city, sister relationships have been set up successfully with farming parishes but all too often when a priest is changed, the interest in keeping these relationships also disappears. The relationships are important not only because of the buying and selling of farm produce, but also because of the life-giving programs exchanged between city and country.
Farmers have to consider not only current market realities, but these life-giving programs and what the future will mean for their children and all children, by preparing now for a healthier environment and, ultimately, a safer world for all.