Wednesday, September 19, 2012
In Which I Discuss My Feelings On The Farm Bill 2012
I am just trying to explain the magnitude that it affects your life and your food sources in this country. Good, bad, whatever...it regulates our food and keeps it safe and so on.
Since I've become aware of it 3 years ago, people in Congress and advocacy groups and lobby groups have been working to craft the next one. It was suppose to be voted on two years ago, but then the election came and all of the congressmen were switched in and out, etc. and the person who was championing it then, Senator Dorgan, was voted out. So all of the work he and his team and the other interested stakeholders was for nothing. He left, and whoever came in next had to start all over again on the bill.
Okay, cool. That's how Congress works. I can accept that.
But now, the Farm Bill 2008 (last time it was renewed) is up for renewal. It has to be passed before September 30, otherwise all the changes/laws/rules/everything will revert to what they were in 1949! I heard from some guy on The Hill once this summer that this will cause something weird for the price of milk and that dairy farmers are going to make out big. But neither side wants to have a Farm Bill debate before the election. The two factors that are not allowing it to pass is:
1. Food stamps - food stamps (now called SNAP) are regulated through the Farm Bill. Some people want to cut down funding even more and remove food stamps.
2. Farm loans - (I think) this one some people want to change the interest rate or the amount farmers can get with farm loans from the government.
And they don't want to debate this in fear of losing the election. I think this is chicken shit. A stinky polluting pile of it. When it comes down to the wire, are you going to choose keeping the baby and yet another mouth to feed or eating the baby when there is no food left? I guess my point is, people who run this country, don't understand the actual fears and actual needs of the country. All these moral debates are debates for first world countries, for people who don't have to worry about where the next meal comes from, and that's cool. Go America! Yay Success! But you still have to keep your foundation strong. You still have to worry and take care of what makes this country successful, and that is the farmers and the availability of food. Without food, nothing else really matters, does it? And by ignoring this fundamental need, congress is alienating Middle America (please read that in Pauly Shore's voice from Son In Law). Congress is alienating the people who feed the rest of the country, and alienating people who eat. But for their own selfish reasons and quest for power, they are failing to do their job. Their job is to regulate this country that keeps it's citizens safe, secure, well-fed, and free.
I don't feel any of those things lately.
And to top it all off, there is a major drought occurring that severally cut down corn production in this country, which is going to cause meat prices to go up and all other prices will follow. To help the farmers with this emergancy disaster drought, instead of passing the Farm Bill and working together to figure out how to adapt to this strange extra hot, extra dry weather over the Bread Belt of our country, Congress passed a quick band-aid fix. All farmers in disaster zones get to apply for disaster funding to keep them afloat this year. Yes...I do support this, and I wish it could have been worked out and thought about. But the funding has to come from somewhere...so they took it from the funding pool that funds environmental programs.
Climate change caused drought - drought made farmers go out of business - government gave them money to stay in business - government took money from programs that work to adapt to climate change - government does less to help people adapt - disasters get worse and people are even more poorly prepared for them - government gives them more money to "bail them out".
I think I'm beginning to understand the people who were against the bail-outs, and against a "welfare state". I'm not against welfare, no, but maybe there is a better way than just handing out checks. Last time our country was like this was during the Great Depression and there was the Dust Bowl. To fix it, a man created the Soil Conservation Service, which is the early predecessor to the USDA and to the NRCS (Natural Resources Conservation Services), only my favorite branch of the USDA. The Soil Conservation Service is what taught farmers (through local, community and grass roots programs that still exist today) how to better farm the land and conserve it. But he couldn't have done it without the people and without the government both. What he did was help people help themselves. How can the Government help us to help ourselves? My personal answer is: Education. But I'm of the belief that the more you learn, the more successful you can be.