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Farm bill fail: Is food policy headed back to the future?

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It’s no secret that the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party would like nothing more than to send Americans back in time. Given their recent attempts at banning contraception, we might think that digging up a DeLorean or getting Mr. Peabody to dust off his Way Back Machine were perhaps their best shots at it. But it now appears that the House GOP may have discovered an easier way — the 2012 Farm Bill.

Where are we going? Back to the great year of 1949. Ah, 1949. The Yanks beat the Brooklyn Dodgers in the World Series (on their way to five straight World Series victories) while Hedy Lamarr ruled the box office in the thrilling epic Samson & Delilah. It was also the year William Faulkner won the Nobel Prize for Literature. As for America, its population, at just under 150 million, was less than half of what it is today. The interstate highway system didn’t even exist yet.

In 1949, approximately 15 percent of Americans lived on farms and almost 10 percent still worked in agriculture overseen by 5 million farmers (compared to less than a million today).

It was also the year Congress passed the 1949 Agricultural Act, the only piece of “permanent legislation” when it comes to farm subsides. You see, the farm bill gets adjusted and reauthorized every five years, but virtually all the programs and subsidies within it expire at the end of each five year period. The provisions of the 1949 act never do.

And so, should Congress pass neither a new farm bill nor an extension of the “current” one by the end of September, then all the subsidies and programs that exist, from crop insurance, to direct payments to conservation programs, would disappear. The entire agricultural support system would revert to a version constructed for a very different America — a system that may not even be workable in today’s far more complex economy.

This, by the way, has always been considered an inconceivable event. The last three farm bills — 1996, 2002, 2007 — were delayed for various reasons but Congress always managed to pass one-year extensions of the previous bills with no real debate.

However, the House GOP’s inability to pass a federal transportation bill — the bill that sends billions in dollars to states to build and maintain roads, bridges, and public transit, and is so larded with goodies that it’s usually one of easiest laws to pass — suggests that the legislative rules of engagement may have changed.

The concern with the farm bill, as explained to me by Ferd Hoefner Policy Director of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition is that GOP House members may balk at passing an extension if they’re convinced this year’s version isn’t sufficiently draconian. As Hoefner put it, they could say, “let’s have a showdown.” No big cuts equals no extension.

Making matters much worse, was last week’s release of the House GOP budget plan. Not content with the proposed $23 billion in farm subsidy cuts, GOP members want to cut $34 billion over the next 10 years. In addition, the House budget would cap crop insurance payments — not necessarily a bad idea since there is currently no maximum payout farmers can receive — a total non-starter with farm state representatives.

But the House budget saves it’s most significant “reform” for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, aka food stamps). Should the House GOP get its way, food stamps would be converted to a block grant program and have its spending capped — thereby saving $123 billion over the next decade. What that means in practice is that states could run out of money to help the hungry if they go over an annual limit. (Food stamps currently rise to meet the need based on a set of eligibility rules.) Should states spend the money too quickly in a given year due to an increase in food insecurity, food stamp funding would dry up. After that, too bad! Let them eat cake! It’s a perfect companion to the House GOP’s massive tax cuts for the wealthy.

It will also never happen. The budget is more of a political document than a legislative blueprint. However, there are dozens of Tea Party representatives who will treat this proposal as Gospel as they seek to cut whatever aspect of the welfare state they can.

Meanwhile, Hoefner explained recently in a blog post on the NSAC website that the GOP budget has thrown another wrench into the farm bill legislative process. It wants to pass a “spending cuts only” version of the farm bill by April 27. Besides being a difficult task based on timing alone, it’s also in direct conflict with the traditional farm bill process that’s currently underway. Hoefner says:

With two very different processes in the two chambers, it is anyone’s guess as to how this whole thing plays out. It is like two trains heading down two different parallel, non-intersecting tracks. Whether a train can jump the tracks and actually get us to a 2012 Farm Bill will take a great deal of legislative ingenuity.

Suddenly, it looks like an extension is the only option. But given the extreme positions the House GOP is taking on farm policy, why would they extend a farm bill they believe to be a giveaway to both the undeserving poor and overcompensated farmers?

http://grist.org/farm-bill/farm-bill-fail-is-agriculture-policy-headed-back-to-the-future/

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How about the Feds stay out of creating "Farm" bills, "transportation" bills, etc.. and let the state's keep their own money instead of stealing it from people just to give it back in the first place....

Would solve ALOT of problems!


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How about the Feds stay out of creating "Farm" bills, "transportation" bills, etc.. and let the state's keep their own money instead of stealing it from people just to give it back in the first place....

Would solve ALOT of problems!

It's statements like these coming from Libertarian fanbois that demonstrate their level of naivete over how the real world functions.

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It's statements like these coming from Libertarian fanbois that demonstrate their level of naivete over how the real world functions.

No it is your statements that are naive. You have posted nothing but deceit for a long time now. Stop all subsidies to all, NOW. If the states want it they will spend the money and tax themselves at a level they want. The Feds need to concentrate the Federal level and stop interfering.

Edited by luckytxn

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It's statements like these coming from Libertarian fanbois that demonstrate their level of naivete over how the real world functions.

:lol:

How about your worry about your state and your affairs, and I'll worry about my state and my affairs.

This way, there's nothing to argue about when it comes to subsidies, to farm bills, to transportation bills, etc..

If one state doesn't want to build infrastructure, then so be. If another does, let them. It really is that simple.

Unfortunately for socialists like yourself, you can't leave well enough alone and feel the need to interfere in what my business is.


nfrsig.jpg

The Great Canadian to Texas Transfer Timeline:

2/22/2010 - I-129F Packet Mailed

2/24/2010 - Packet Delivered to VSC

2/26/2010 - VSC Cashed Filing Fee

3/04/2010 - NOA1 Received!

8/14/2010 - Touched!

10/04/2010 - NOA2 Received!

10/25/2010 - Packet 3 Received!

02/07/2011 - Medical!

03/15/2011 - Interview in Montreal! - Approved!!!

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