On Bryce’s Mind
At least a month ago I wrote an article about a farm bill in Washington, D.C. This farm bill would set up agricultural and food policies in the United States, and would replace the provisions set up in 2008’s farm bill, which is set to expire soon, and would need to be voted on by September 30. “Would”, however, is the operative word.
The U.S. Senate passed the “Agricultural Reform, Food & Job Act”, 64-35, with bipartisan support. It passed in the House of Representatives’ Ag Committee, 35-11, with bipartisan support. But both Republicans and Democrats haven’t passed the bill on the house floor. In fact, representatives haven’t even voted on it yet. Instead, before the recess, they voted on a one-year relief plan and to assist ranchers and farmers affected by drought.
What is holding up the show? Well, for one, both sides are making food stamps an issue. Some conservatives don’t like that 80% of a high cost, about $100 billion a year, will go toward the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. Some Democrats don’t like the idea of cutting $1.6 billion from food stamp programs.
It’s not just food stamps though. It’s gridlock that is showing through on both sides of the fence.
In an online posting for the McLeod County Chronicle, a paper based in Glencoe, Minn., U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), who is partner to House Ag Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.), blamed the gridlock on Republicans being against anything President Barack Obama supports, and legislators like Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), chairman of the Budget Committee, and Mitt Romney’s official running mate, fighting him every step of the way the last time they tried to pass a farm bill.
Earlier this month, Heidi Heitkamp, the Democratic candidate running for Senate, in a news conference in Bismarck blasted House leaders and representatives for their unwillingness to act on it, including, Speaker of the House John Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and Rep. Rick Berg (R-N.D.).
Berg said in a news release that he was against the motion for Congress to adjourn for the August recess, because he doesn’t believe the House should leave Washington without passing the farm bill.
Look, assisting farmers and ranchers affected by the worst drought in 50 years is great. But one year of assistance is not enough. After that’s over more time will be wasted in debate and in trying to get another farm bill passed. Plus heaven forbid if a disaster were to happen in that span of time. A four-to-five year plan is needed for farmers and ranchers everywhere in this country because, let’s face it, an end-product of their labors is feeding everyone.
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