8 February 2014 - Finally, a Farm Bill

Finally, a farm bill, 475 days after the current bill expired on Sept. 30, 2012. When they started discussing the new farm bill early in 2012, I visited with Minnesota Congressman Collin Peterson and he told me the farm bill could very well be delayed by a non-farm issue, the nutrition program. And that turned out to be true.

Tea Party Republicans in the House wanted to cut the food stamp program, now known as S.N.A.P. by $40-billion. House and Senate Democrats and President Obama would have none of that and the debate continued for months. Finally, the food stamp program was cut by $8-billion over 10 years. It’s not a perfect bill, but when did Congress ever pass a bill that gave everybody everything they wanted.

House Agriculture Committee Chairman, Frank Lucas said “With the President signing the Agricultural Act of 2014 into law, we mark a new era of farm and food policy that values saving money, reforming or repealing government programs, and yet, still providing an effective safety net for the production of our national food supply and for those Americans who are struggling.” Congress says the bill will reduce the deficit by

But not everyone agrees and not everyone loves America’s agricultural producers. One of the strongest attacks came from the Heartland Institute. Let me share some of the statements of their officials and policy advisors.

Jay Lehr -“It is a sad commentary on American politics that after two years of haggling over the desire to have a more fair and streamlined farm bill, we end up with essentially the same mess we have had for two decades.”

S.T Karnick - “The farm bill is a classic of pork barrel spending and political logrolling. Farmers are getting price supports under a different guise, food stamp spending will rise, and we’re stuck with it for a full decade. It’s an awful bill. This Congress should be ashamed.”

Mischa Popoff- “One of the biggest ruses being inflicted on Americans is the Federal Government’s continued subsidization of the multi-billion-dollar organic sector.”

I think the bill is a step in the right direction. But despite the fact that the USDA budget accounts for less than 2% of the federal budget, a lot of Americans have little or no appreciation of our farmers and ranchers. I hope they never have to face empty grocery shelves.

My thoughts on Samuelson Sez.