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10 August 2013- What Will Happen to our Farm Bill

So the discussion, the debate, the questions continue on the fate of the Farm Bill. The question basically deals with ‘Should it be a separate Farm Bill and a separate Nutrition Bill or should it be what it has historically been, an all-encompassing Farm Bill?”

That question has come to the forefront, since a few weeks ago the House decided to pass a Farm Policy Bill only and then later pass a separate Nutrition program bill. That is why the discussion is taking place. What should it be?

I have been hearing a great deal from people on both sides of the argument. There are those who say it should be just a Farm Policy Bill and this is what I am hearing from them...Why should farmers and ranchers get blamed for 80% of the cost of the USDA budget that is not involved in farm policy or farm spending. It is used to pay for nutrition programs, basically S.N.A.P., the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as the food stamp program. Why should agriculture get blamed for this multi-billion dollar bill?

On the other hand is this argument...With so few members of Congress representing truly rural districts, how would we ever get any kind of a farm policy bill if we didn’t have the leverage of the nutrition program to use as a trade-off with the urban Congressmen? Give agriculture the programs it needs to continue producing food and enhancing the environment, and we’ll give you the nutrition programs.

I understand both sides of the argument, but I agree with my friend, Barry Flinchbaugh, Agricultural Economist at Kansas State University, who told me earlier this year he feels strongly that we need an all-encompassing Farm Bill and If we don’t get it, it could mean the end of Farm Bills being written in Congress and it could even be the end of the Department of Agriculture. Already, there are some urban editorial writers asking why 2% of the U.S. population should have a Cabinet level department costing billions of dollars.

Barry said “I don’t want to be an alarmist, but there are parts of the Department of Agriculture that could go to the Departments of Interior, Human Services, Commerce and other government agencies and that would bring an end to the “people’s Department” as it was called by President Lincoln when he established the Department in the 1860's.

Those are the reasons I agree with Dr. Flinchbaugh and urge you to keep the pressure on the Republican-controlled House to re-think its position and finally complete a total Farm Bill that can reach the President’s desk before the one-year extension expires September 30th.

My thoughts on Samuelson Seaz.