Ag Policy Blog

Others Fill Void in Farm Bill Conference Talks

Chris Clayton
By  Chris Clayton , DTN Ag Policy Editor
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Conferees on the farm bill met Oct. 30. Do you remember that? There were all these Kumbaya statements. That was now more than two weeks ago. The House and Senate conferees haven't set a full meeting since then.

Reports continue to indicate the principal negotiators in the farm bill are making progress, but no public meetings have been announced.

Meanwhile, people continue to push their demands.

Some members of Congress wrote Thursday asking conferees not to affect programs involving food safety. A provision in the House version of the farm bill would prevent some FDA regulations under the Food Safety Modernization Act from going into effect until an economic analysis is done. This may be one of the biggest issues dividing small farmers who feel the FSMA is threatening their livelihood.…

American Farmland Trust is linking congressmen who are part of conference talks with a chain of tweets to submit that would let lawmakers know how people feel about supporting conservation compliance and sodsaver.…

David Rogers at Politico notes the fights on the right and left trying to make their points in extreme fashion. He notes that Environmental Working Group ant others pushed on billionaires getting farm payments. Rogers notes, "But left out is any sense of proportion or the fact that most of the payments were before 2008, when Congress substantially changed the rules in the last farm bill."…

Ahem ... a certain Omaha journalist highlighted the flaws in the EWG arguments a week ago.

The Dairy Market Stabilization Program remains a hang up. points out 28 dairy manufacturers have written senators asking them to accept the House version of the farm bill that doesn't include the supply-management program.…

Two Catholic bishops in Georgia wrote an op-ed in their local papers calling for no cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. They also called for reforms to funding overseas food aid. "The Catholic Church runs many food pantries and other programs that help the hungry. However, all the food pantries out there are not going to be able to fill the hole that cuts to SNAP will leave.

"This is why the Catholic Church has joined other faith communities in opposing changes to SNAP that would result in cuts that harm the poor and vulnerable."…

Mother Jones magazine -- not likely read by a lot of DTN subscribers -- notes that House Democrats can defeat more cuts to SNAP by simply voting to kill the farm bill altogether.…

As a humble observer of farm policy, all of these views and perspectives reflect more transparent and open talks are needed to fully understand the various implications and issues in the farm-bill conference talks.

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Sally Benson
11/18/2013 | 6:20 AM CST
For decades now congress has been awarding the largest and potentially most profitable farm businesses with extreme financial benefits that not only guarantee these farmers' crop investments but have in cases have also guaranteed these farmers a profit. This mindless allocation of government resources has effectively thrown smaller farmers under the bus and has been a major force in destroying countless rural communities by effectively stealing from these smaller farmers a fair and equal opportunity to compete.
Sally Benson
11/15/2013 | 10:34 AM CST
Any farmer able to generate a million dollar income or with a million dollar net worth already has proven to the taxpayer that he or she already has in possession a more than adequate safety net and certainly should not be fleecing and begging the taxpayer for a larger safety net.
Bill Billson
11/15/2013 | 8:20 AM CST
Sally hit the nail on the head. The crop insurance subsidies to both agents and millionaire farmers like me are indefensible. Not only do they cost taxpayers billions but they guarantee profits for millionaires. SNAP is a joke but at least the folks receiving the benefit have some need. Try exlplaining the crop insurance subsidies and guaranteed profits to your buddies who work in town earning 35000 per year and see how much sympathy you get. Chris, can you give me one honest reason why crop insurance subsidies are needed other than for votes and kickbacks from wealthy farmers???
11/15/2013 | 7:35 AM CST
Sally, SO WHAT to your comment. Crop Insurance Subsidy or should we say a "discount". It is not a check written to them. Billionaires/Millionaires pay the same rate as all others. What is a Millionaire? You do understand that the term millionaire does not stand for income, it refers to net worth. A farmer in the "I" states could own or inherit a small 1/4 section of land and now be considered a millionaire. Don't use those terms to lightly.
Sally Benson
11/14/2013 | 5:46 PM CST
Chris - you are forgetting about those billions in crop insurance subsidies again. There may be only a few billionaires getting millions in crop insurance subsidies , but obviously there are still nearly countless millionaires getting millions if not billions in crop insurance subsidies. The schemes and scams have morphed from direct payments to crop insurance subsidies.