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Farm Bill sausage has been grilled

May 16th, 2008 · 2 Comments · Farm Bill, Food in the news

Yes, the Farm Bill is one of those bits of legislation that reminds us of the truism that you don’t want to see laws or sausage being made. (And just in case we’re willing, Congress makes sure we don’t watch too closely.)

I suppose if I were in Congress, I’d hold my nose and vote for it, as most of the Kansas lawmakers (Hutchinson News) did. The quotes from some of the lawmakers in that Hutchinson News story, however, show how much hogwash is part of the bill. I’m a farmer’s granddaughter and very sympathetic with farmers, but don’t break my heart over cutting payments to those whose income exceeds $750,000, especially while commodity prices are at record highs.

Meanwhile, the Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (PDF) summarizes the good things in the bill, which President Bush says he’ll veto because it doesn’t cut direct payments enough, a stance that appears entirely out of character for the president and, therefore, makes me very suspicious.

For commentary by people better-informed than I, check out these:

At this stage, there isn’t much left for us as individuals to do about this Farm Bill, I guess, other than let our lawmakers know how we feel about a veto if that occurs. One thing we need to be sure of, though, is that we don’t wait around to gear up for the next Farm Bill in four years. We all need to make our voices and our dollars heard in our daily living, our political and charitable contributions and, yes, in our communications with lawmakers. They seem frequently to forget that they work for us, but that’s just because we let them. We have to stop letting them forget.

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2 Comments so far ↓

  • ed bruske

    Janet, I just got an e-mail from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation saying how thrilled they were over this farm bill because it includes hundreds of millions of dollars to help farmers reduce the pollution from fertilizers that is killing the Chesapeake Bay.

    My reason for opposing it was strictly on the basis of being philosophically against handing out billions of dollars to wealthy landowners whose sole qualification seems to be that they are tight with their local congressmen. The handouts continue precisely because the farm bill includes further billions for worthy programs that everyone can support, such as school lunches, nutrition, land conservation, water cleanup.

    You are right to be suspicious of Bush’s opposition, however. No doubt there is something diabolical behind it. The most cogent analysis I’ve seen is that this is a sop to the World Trade Organization, meant to indicate that the U.S. is prepared to discontinue the practice of subsidizing commodity crops. We could have a whole other discussion about how the WTO and its trade policies have contributed to the current food crises by stamping out subistence farming around the globe.

  • Janet Majure

    I hear you, Ed. The whole commodity thing is why I’d hold my nose. I guess I don’t have much confidence things will change until we get a new Congress and/or until voters start threatening the incumbents’ comfort over these issues. People like my Sen. Pat Roberts blithely take hundreds of thousands of dollars from the big ag groups while mouthing bromides about family farms, and most people, alas, don’t think any of it affects them. I’m modestly hopeful this year’s screwy markets may change that indifference.