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FROM THIS EPISODE

Thirteen million American families go hungry for part of the year, at the same time that food prices are rising while donations to food banks are on the decline. Will increases to federal programs bridge the gap? What's the impact of new subsidies for corn-based ethanol? Has the era of cheap food come to an end? Also, the Bush EPA blocks California bid to limit car emissions, and the Democrats were full of promises when they took over Congress this year.  Which ones were kept?  Which ones were broken?


Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Producers:
Carina Miller
Karen Radziner
Katie Cooper

Main Topic Rising Food Prices: Has Ethanol Backfired? 34 MIN, 26 SEC

For 30 years, food prices have been declining worldwide, so much that, in western countries, obesity has become a major problem. But it appears that the era of cheap food has come to an end. As prices are rising all over the world, many Americans don’t have enough to eat. The latest report from the Department of Agriculture finds that almost 11% of American households experience "food insecurity" for part of the year. Thirteen million families don't have enough to eat. Food banks that serve hungry people are not getting the donations they need to do their job. The Farm Bill increases money for food stamps and other programs. Will that make up the difference? Will massive support for corn-based ethanol make things better or worse?

Guests:
Mark Nord, Sociologist, US Department of Agriculture's Food Assistance Branch
Maura Daly, Vice President of Government Relations, Second Harvest
Joe Victor, Vice President for Marketing, Allendale
Eric Pica, Director of Domestic Policy Campaigns, Friend of the Earth
Bruce Babcock, Iowa State University

Making News EPA Blocks California Bid to Limit Emissions from Cars 5 MIN, 53 SEC

Yesterday, President Bush signed the energy bill, saying it would help deal with climate change. Hours later, his Environmental Protection Agency refused to allow 17 states to set their own vehicle emission standards to help curb global warming. Today when asked how serious he is about fighting greenhouse gases, the President defended the effectiveness of a national, rather than state, environmental policy. California is the leader among states who want to set their own emission standards. Zachary Coile reports from Washington for the San Francisco Chronicle.

Guests:
Zachary Coile, Reporter, San Francisco Chronicle

Reporter's Notebook Democrats in Congress End Year with a Whimper 8 MIN, 44 SEC

The first Democratic congress in a dozen years has just gone home after ending the first year of a two-year session, with polls showing a historic low in public esteem. What about all those promises during the 2006 campaign? In the past year, congress passed the first increase in fuel-efficiency standards in a generation and the first minimum-wage increase in a decade. But what about earmarks? What about bipartisanship? What about ending the war in Iraq? Chris Lehmann is editor at Congressional Quarterly and Washington correspondent for the New York Observer.

Guests:
Chris Lehmann, Congressional Quarterly

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