Ag Interests Push Farm Bill

As America careens towards $16 trillion in debt, a new group has popped up to push the now-stalled $1 trillion farm and food stamp bill.  From the group’s press release:

The coalition, called Farm Bill Now, comprises associations and coalitions representing commodity crops, livestock, dairy, specialty crops, state and local governments, minor crops, energy and biobased product groups, farm cooperatives and financial groups, as well as the nation’s two largest farm groups, the American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Farmers Union.

In all, 39 groups have joined the effort to urge lawmakers to pass a “farm bill.”  Although the website is scarce on details (which isn’t surprising considering the somewhat disparate nature of the groups), their aim is clear: just pass something, please!!!

Interestingly, the new group tries to spin the nearly $1 trillion bill as fiscally responsible: 

By reducing spending significantly compared to prior farm bills, the proposals pending right now in Congress address the need to get our nation’s fiscal house in order.

The group’s spin won’t fool too many people because one of the reasons the current farm and food stamp bill stalled is because of its enormous cost.  The Senate-passed bill and the House-drafted bill represent more than a 60% increase in proposed spending compared to the 2008 farm bill, which President Bush vetoed (and the Pelosi-led Congress overrode) for being too expensive.

And despite the cost, the new group attempts to explain that really, it is more than a farm bill: 

Calling the farm bill the ‘farm bill’ suggests its impact is limited only to farms and to the rural areas to which they are so closely tied. It’s really a jobs bill. A food bill. A conservation bill. A research bill. An energy bill. A trade bill. In other words, it’s a bill that affects every American.

On this, we agree.  Heck, all you have to do is read the 12 separate titled of the misnamed Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management (FARRM) Act of 2012 (H.R.6083): Commodities; Conservation; Trade; Nutrition; Credit; Rural Development; Research, Extension and Related Matters; Forestry; Energy; Horticulture; Crop Insurance; and, of course, Miscellaneous.

Clearly, we’re talking about a lot more than farms; in fact, 80% of the bill’s cost comes just from food stamps.  And as U.S. Representative Marlin Stutzman (R-IN) and Heritage Action CEO Michael Needhamexplained in the Wall Street Journal (sub. req’d ) last month, it is precisely because of this “unholyWashington alliance” that the cost of legislation skyrockets.

It may be August, but the facts regarding the farm and food bill remain the same.  And to be clear, Farm Bill Now is offering nothing new; however, the group’s formation is proof-positive the Washington Establishment remains bound and determined to ram a massive, market-distorting bill through Congress before the election.

Conservatives must remain vigilant.


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