11/13/2013 10:36:00 AM Farming and your freedom: Farm communities restless at lack of farm bill passage
The natives are getting restless. The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) and more than 250 other groups urged Congress last week to pass a new five-year farm bill as soon as it is at all practical. The groups sent a letter October 29 to both the House and Senate ag committee members urging an end to stalemate and fast passage of a unified farm bill. The key, the groups believe, is for Congress to pass a unified bill that preserves a five-year authorization for all programs and continues the partnership between nutrition and farm communities. In other words, keep food stamps in the bill. (Congress has been considering major cuts to SNAP or EBT programs, with the Senate’s cuts far less than those proposed in the House.) According to the American Soybean Association (ASA), the groups expressed concern that “replacement of permanent law would further impede the farm bill process.” They pointed out to Congress that for decades the mere threat of reinstatement of the outdated policies of the 1938 and 1949 acts was real motivation for lawmakers to swallow their differences and deliver new farm bills. There is real concern that Congress might repeal those older, permanent acts, and replace them with a 2013 act, making it permanent, and making it difficult to generate enough political pressure to adjust commodity safety net provisions whenever conditions in production agriculture would change. At stake are many provisions of earlier bills that are important to the farm sector. If Title I of the 2013 farm bill is made permanent, these vital programs would be at risk of not being reauthorized if the new bill would expire after five years. In their letter, the farm groups told Congress: “If this (Title I made permanent) should occur and we revert to permanent law, then programs covering conservation, forestry, research, energy, rural development, horticulture, trade, etc., could be left to the will of the appropriations process, likely with limited funding and little opportunity to update or adjust to meet changing needs in agriculture and rural communities.” That, folks, is what a lot of the modern farm legislation is all about. Attempts to wither them on the vine will be disastrous to the nation and its farmers and ranchers—not to mention the millions who need food stamps and nutrition programs just to survive in this new winner-take-all economy. In summing up their views, the groups told Congress, “This important legislation supports our nation’s farmers, ranchers, forest owners, food security, natural resources and wildlife habitats, rural communities and the 16 million Americans whose jobs directly depend on the agriculture industry.” They closed by saying, “We also fear that a farm bill without a meaningful nutrition title will make it difficult, if not impossible, for the House and Senate to reach a bipartisan agreement on a final version that can be signed by the president.” One continues to wonder how qualified individuals serving in our national legislature can be so benighted by their ideologies that they cannot or will not pass a farm bill that the nation so badly needs. I’ll see ya!
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