DON’T JUST WATCH THE NEXT FARM BILL DEBATE

Lindsay Mitchell

Mar, 30, 2018  |  Today's News |  Legislation & Regulation |  Farm Policy

Here in rural America, farmers have been talking, thinking, planning, and prioritizing for the next Farm Bill.  Though for a second, we wondered if it might have come in 2018, most experts now expect our next farm bill to be a 2019 Farm Bill.

 

But that doesn’t mean we aren’t still watching the debate and the negotiation.

 

Politico published a piece this week that we believe deserves your attention.  Farmers are fooling themselves if they believe that this being the first farm bill written with Republicans in control of Congress and the White House won’t have a big impact on the outcome of the bill – and it might not be an outcome you’d like.

 

Republicans want to cut the SNAP program (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), otherwise known as food stamps, but Democrats are not in favor of large-scale cuts.  This back and forth will put our traditionally bipartisan bill at risk.  And the debate within the House Agriculture Committee – typically one of the least partisan committees in Congress – doesn’t send a great signal for easy passage of the bill.

 

And let us not forget what history taught us during the last negotiations:

 

From Politico, “In 2013, the House voted down a farm bill that would have cut SNAP by $20 billion over a decade — largely because some Democrats dismissed the cuts as too steep, while some Republicans thought they weren’t steep enough. After that, the House divided up the farm bill and passed it in two pieces: farm policy and food stamps. The Senate ultimately put the two back together, and the House was forced to accept the compromise.

 

“This time around, the stakes of a delayed or derailed bill are much higher for farmers.

 

“When the current farm bill was written, prices for many crops, like corn and soybeans, were at near-record highs. Today, many producers have seen 50 percent income drops as a result of flagging commodity prices. Some have also sustained big losses as a result of hurricanes, drought, and wildfires, and fear their goods may be targeted by retaliatory tariffs as a result of Trump’s trade policies.

 

You certainly don’t need Politico to remind you how far the farm economy has fallen since 2013; you are living it every day.  But please do let Politico remind you that your elected official needs to hear from you often.  The next farm bill will be complicated to negotiate, and your voice stands to get lost in the mix if you aren’t loud enough.