Reviews | Farm Bill ignores the real problems of American agriculture
Congress usually gets away with the Farm Bill cronyism with little to no public outcry. This could be in part because its creators are announcing the bill with pictures rolling wheat and young farm families and I suggest that the bill helps keep American agriculture alive. But it may also be because the bill itself is gigantic and difficult to summarize. It covers commodity subsidies, land conservation, agricultural trade policy, food stamps, agricultural credit loans, rural economic development, agricultural research and education policy, forestry and horticulture programs, pesticide use and policy federal crop insurance.
The first “farm bill” was adopted in 1933 in response to the ravages of the Depression and the Dust Bowl. It Free farmers a combination of commodity price supports and supply controls while seeking to reverse the catastrophic damage to soils and grasslands caused by overproduction. Over the next 85 years, the Farm Bill evolved into a more than $ 800 billion amalgamation of complex programs and policies.
House Republicans, even those in the fiscally conservative Freedom Caucus, have shown widespread apathy for real farm reform. Democrats have denounced Republican cuts to the supplemental nutrition assistance program (formerly food stamps), but rarely point out the hypocrisy inherent in Republicans’ willingness to pour taxpayer dollars into the pockets of big food companies – indeed, they often side with the Republicans to promulgate these programs.
This year’s bill could be worse. The House’s iteration of it, which was passed in a party line vote in May, would have allowed 10 percent or more farms across the country to become eligible for unlimited grant payments overnight. It reduced funding and authority for the conservation stewardship program, reduced funding for several conservation programs and did not renew mandatory funding for several local and organic food incentive programs – including a market promotion initiative farmers, a subsidy program for young and beginning farmers, and a cost-sharing program that helps farmers achieve and maintain organic certification.
Most notoriously, the creators of the House bill introduced stricter work requirements for food stamp users, requiring able-bodied adult beneficiaries to work or participate in vocational training for 20 hours per week. The reforms could have caused up to two million food voucher beneficiaries to lose benefits or to see them reduced.
The final bill maintains most of the this blanket. It pulls back the farmers market and young and beginning farmers to agree programs in a Local agricultural market program who will get $ 60 million in permanent funding go forward. It also combines the Entry-Level Farmers and Herders Development Program with Section 2501, which serves socially disadvantaged and veteran farmers and herders in a Training on agricultural opportunities and Awareness program. This will provide $ 50 million per year over the next four years to help these groups get started in farming – a need that grows as the average farmer’s age continues to rise and American farmers continue to grow. continue to bias white and male.
The final invoice is some changes food stamps for workforce development programs, better case management and the encouragement of nutritious food purchases, but leaves out the broader plans of House Republicans to work requirements.