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5 June 2010 - Time Does Fly

Time does fly. Speaking from experience, I can tell you, with each passing year, it flies even faster. At times it gets confusing for me. For example, it seems to me it was a short time ago we passed a new 5-year farm bill, but now we are already holding hearings on the new farm bill. Looking at the calendar, yes, it makes sense because the Food, Conservation & Energy Act of 2007 was passed by the House in July and by the Senate in December of that year, yet it didn't become law until June 18 of 2008, following two vetoes by President Bush that were both over-ridden by Congress. The $288-billion 5-year program finally became law a year late.

Now, here we are, beginning hearings on the new Farm Bill due out in 2012. Leave it to Minnesota Democrat, Collin Peterson, Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee to get an early start. He held hearings on the Farm Bill in April and after one of them he said a "fundamental switch in farm supports may be necessary".

Then, on June 3rd, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack chaired the National Rural Summit in Hillsboro, Missouri and there said the new Farm Bill should "give priority to rural economic development".

Finally, starting June 30 in Washington, D.C., the Senate Agriculture Committee chaired by Arkansas Democrat Blanche Lincoln, will hold the first in a series of four hearings on the Farm Bill, in her words "focusing on maintaining a sound farm policy to protect our most vital resource - our food supply."

I'm not convinced that hearings of this type are very successful in generating new ideas for a farm bill because the speakers are pre-selected and generally promote long-held policies of the organizations they represent. But, if you have the opportunity to attend one, I suggest you do so because you never know when a new and different idea might be presented. I still think the best time to share ideas with your member of Congress is during the August recess. It's election year and every House member will be returning to the home district asking for your vote. Try to get their ear for a minute and express your thoughts and concerns about the new Farm Bill of 2012.

And while you are talking to them, will you ask a question for me? This is what I would like you to ask: "If you say you are truly ‘one of us' when are you going to start living under the same rules we taxpaying voters do, particularly on health care programs and Social Security?" It will be interesting to see what their response, if any, might be. But please ask it and let me know their reaction.

My thoughts on Samuelson Sez.