I've had problems accessing blogger for some reason, thus my absence. Pole sana, my friends! I hope to be a bit more present in the future.
I am doing well. I’m terribly busy with work and trying to prepare to move back to the US. I do not have a job waiting for me so I’m working on looking and applying for jobs all over the USA. If you hear of anything, please let me know. I know that this is a difficult time right now around the world.
Right now I can tell you the following for my calendar.
Here’s the short version – MAY 6 – leave Kenya 7-13 – London with friends 13 – arrive in Wichita KS and drive on into Liberal with the fam 16 – sister Angie’s graduation from UTD in Dallas 17 – cousin Kara’s graduation from LHS in Liberal 19 – fly to Grand Rapids 23 – drive to Burlington, Ontario (will be assisting with orientation among other things)
JUNE Dates are up in the air but I will be in Colorado, Minnesota and Liberal for sure.
June is really flexible right now, I’m hoping to know more soon but I’d love to visit with each of you as time allows. I also hope that I’ll be able to be doing some job interviews during that time as well. God only knows.
Stephen Traore is a cotton farmer in the Fana district of Mali. He works hard to feed his family of 15 children and grandchildren. He also takes the time to serve as a lay leader in his local Evangelical congregation and the local district of over 23 churches. When CRWRC staff visited Stephen’s farm, he asked us to translate and transmit this message to the church in the US:
“I greet American people, I thank American people. I am very happy that you are asking about our difficulties in Africa. You can help us improve the price of cotton, so that we and the American people can be neighbors, so that we can send our children to school. Today, there are many difficulties in Africa, because of the low price of cotton, especially in my village. It’s been two years and now and we still have not gotten the money we are supposed to get for the cotton. We are very happy for your visit. Please take our message to your people in America. That is all. In the name of God, we thank you.”
Let us explain why Stephen is concerned. He and other hard working farmers like him in the cotton growing areas of Mali are negatively affected by globalization, and in particular US farm policy. They grow grain which they eat, plus cotton to sell for cash so they can buy fish, meat and vegetables, clothing and shoes, and pay school fees. The depressed price of cotton means their families are hungrier, and provisions are scarcer.
This is how US policy has impact across the ocean: the US government pays US corporate cotton growers for their cotton regardless of the demand. Ostensibly, these subsidies exist to protect American farmers from competitive markets, but in reality the top 10% of cotton-subsidy recipients (large agro-businesses) receive almost 80% of the money. Subsidies encourage growers to grow as much cotton as possible, much more than the US market can use. The surplus cotton gets dumped onto world markets, which drive prices down everywhere—including West Africa.
As he showed CRWRC staff his farm, Stephen said, “Yes, I have heard of the politics of cotton in Mali, Burkina Faso, China, and USA. The village was told by the company that buys the cotton to only have small or medium cotton fields since the price is low and not all may be bought. In the past I have had 12 or more acres of cotton planted but am down to 9 acres this year. Others have also reduced or have stopped growing cotton altogether.” We asked, “If the cotton prices were better, what would be the first thing that you would do or buy?” Stephen’s answer was immediate and simple. “Food. Meat.”
Both Democrat and Republicans leaders have supported ending cotton subsidies, and President Obama’s proposed budget sets new limits on direct payments to cotton producers. But the National Cotton Council of America (NCC) is lobbying hard to maintain the subsidies. The NCC succeeded in getting cotton subsidies restored in the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008. The time could not be better for you to act and make a difference. Write or email your US Senate and House Representatives and tell them you support the limits on payments to cotton producers. Encourage them to push for legislation that is fair for everyone. Our tax support of American agro-business should not do harm to Africans struggling to feed their families.