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2018 Farm Bill

Farm Bill keeps crawling along

by Dan Burns on July 17, 2018 · 0 comments

corn“Next week” in the article means this week, now. It still seems likely that something very much like the Senate version of the bill – that is, no SNAP cuts or “work requirements”, about the same or even in a few cases slightly higher spending on conservation programs overall, etc. – is what will ultimately get through Congress. I don’t know whether Trump would sign that. My guess at this time is that he will, with little if any fuss, because he just doesn’t care about it beyond just wanting it out of the way.

The House could take an important step in moving farm bill talks forward next week by voting on a motion to proceed to conference — but Thursday (July 12) provided the latest indication that bad blood between House ag leaders is one of the many issues yet to be sorted out in the coming weeks.
House Ag Chairman Mike Conaway (R-Texas) and ranking member Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) met Wednesday for the first time in eight weeks, according to Peterson…
Peterson indicated to reporters that the face-to-face got heated. “I was not easy on him, and I told him bluntly what I think, which I always do,” he said. “He didn’t like it, but I said I’m just telling what I think and I’m trying to be helpful.”
“We get this thing into conference next week and if people become sensible it won’t take long to do this,” Peterson said in a jab at House Republicans.


cornFarm state – that is, most states, actually – legislators are worried, and things are moving along

Over the past few weeks, Congress moved forward on the 2018 Farm Bill. The Senate Agriculture Committee passed its version of the bill, and then the House of Representatives narrowly passed its version, a month after it was defeated over immigration issues. Within the $800 billion bill, big-ticket items like crop insurance and nutrition generate the most impassioned public debate. But beyond the proverbial meat and potatoes, there are many smaller sources of funding that provide vital support to the farming community.
A group of 12 funding sources, which the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) refers to as “tiny but mighty” programs, leverage a far greater impact than their cost might suggest. Primarily targeted at sustainable food systems across the U.S., they include programs such as the Value-Added Producer Grants (VAPG) Program, Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program (FMLFPP), Organic Certification Cost Share Program (OCCSP), and the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP).
The House version of the farm bill strips these programs of over $350 million in funding, entirely removing a budget baseline for six of them. While farmers across the nation benefit from these programs, young and beginning farmers in particular would greatly benefit from ongoing investment in sustainable agriculture. The Senate farm bill would reauthorize funding for all but the Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program, and even strengthens many of the programs that provide additional support to young farmers.
(Civil Eats)

The House bill also contains attacks on food stamp recipients and bigger handouts for predatory corporations than ever. The Senate bill doesn’t, and something very much like it that clears a conference committee will likely get enough support from both parties in the House to pass there.
Will Trump sign it? Certainly his instincts are with the current House bill. But what with one thing and another, he may not care enough about farms and food to raise any ruckus over this.


Manure_spreader_Record_2Three posts down is something titled “A very bad Farm Bill will presumably pass the U.S. House.” Wrong again, maybe, because for the mega-corporations and their propaganda mill buffoons it still ain’t bad enough.

Some of the Republican hardliners in the House are warming up to the farm bill because of the massive cuts it makes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps. Not so fast, say some conservative groups, for whom making people go hungry just isn’t good enough.

“There’s not a whole lot of excitement around this bill,” among GOP conservatives, Dan Holler, vice president of Heritage Action, said last week at a briefing for reporters.
The pile-on began on Tuesday at the briefing by the Heritage Foundation, where the group’s political arm, Heritage Action, formally came out against the bill. On Wednesday the group joined about a dozen other right-leaning, free-market organizations in writing to Congress to denounce the legislation. And on Thursday, two conservative groups linked to the influential Koch brothers — Americans for Prosperity and Freedom Partners — penned a letter to Congress that said the bill moves the system farther away from free-market principles.
The groups took aim at some of the bill’s SNAP provisions, but their opposition is rooted in the farm policy side of the bill and, specifically, its lack of cutbacks to subsidy programs.

(Daily Kos)

Most people with any sense at all have long known that when right-wingnuts start pontificating about “free-market principles,” they really mean the fatuous, pitiful submission to the rich man and his corporations that they practice themselves. The majority of the populace (though, sadly, not always enough of a majority, yet) has more pride, and sense, than that, once they realize what’s going on.


cornChances are that it will be voted on in a couple of weeks, give or take. I’m just blockquoting two of the strikes, of the six listed in the article.

1. The Rich Get Richer – The House farm bill creates new loopholes that further tilt farm subsidies toward the largest, most successful farm businesses and away from small family farmers. The bill would allow cousins, nieces and nephews of farmers to receive subsidies even if they don’t live or work on the farm. A recent report by the Department of Agriculture found that the share of subsidies claimed by the biggest farms has tripled since 1991, and H.R. 2 would make this problem worse.
2. The Poor Get Poorer – The same bill that enriches the largest and most successful farmers will also cause more than 1 million low-income households – more than 2 million people, including working families with children – to lose their food-assistance benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or have them reduced. The bill includes unworkable job training requirements that will place new burdens on states and leave many poor Americans without food assistance.

Sixty votes are required in the Senate, so some of the really atrocious stuff about, for example, food stamps and work requirements probably will have to be dropped to get it through, there. Probably.
Related material:

Dairy farmers in the United States are paid by the hundredweight—that’s 100 pounds of milk, about 12 gallons. Milk prices, after peaking in 2014, have plummeted to roughly $15 per hundredweight, forcing many dairy farmers to operate in the red. Tina Carlin, executive director of Farm Women United and a Pennsylvania farmer herself, says the cost of production ranges from $22 to $25 per hundredweight. “We wouldn’t need the suicide hotline, we wouldn’t need the mental health services, if dairy farmers were getting paid what they deserve to be paid,” Carlin says. She and her husband quit dairy farming in 2012, switching to beef and vegetable crops.
As president of Farm Women United, Cochran is lobbying Congress alongside Carlin to institute a $20 emergency floor price on every hundredweight of milk. The women have also advocated public hearings, but with little progress so far.
(Mother Jones)


A federal farm bill is kind of taking shape

by Dan Burns on March 26, 2018 · 0 comments

cornKind of, maybe.

Legislation supporting agriculture and conservation is easy to “put wheels on,” but often lacks horsepower, traction and fuel. That may currently be the case with the 2018 Farm Bill. And as Congress faces major federal revenue shortfalls, “show me the money” will still be the real bottom line…
One of the latest pieces of bipartisan Senate action is the Give our Resources the Opportunity to Work Act (S.B. 2557). The GROW Act, introduced by Sens. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and Bob Casey Jr., D-Penn, would maintain funding and acreage levels for the 2018 Farm Bill’s three largest conservation programs: The Conservation Stewardship Program, Environmental Quality Incentives Program and Conservation Reserve Program.
A similar bill, Strengthening Our Investment in Land Stewardship Act of 2018 (H.R. 5188), was also introduced in the House by Rep. Tim Walz, D-Minn. The bills would incentivize cover crops under CSP, increase set-aside funds for conservation buffers within continuous CRP, and maintain EQIP water quality emphasis. Provisions that actually make it into the farm bill are anyone’s guess at this point.
(American Agriculturalist)

As far as what Pr*sident Trump’s vile minions want to do, it’s horrible.

For a while now, federal farm policy has been all about encouraging, to say the least, overproduction of a handful of “staples,” especially animal feed, sugar, and milk. This guarantees low prices and therefore large profits for Big Processing, as it in turn encourages, again to say the least, the questionable dining habits of a large majority of Americans – including, I readily admit, myself. Meanwhile, if actual farmers are being driven to the edge by overwork and scant returns, well, tough. Sadly, there is little chance that any of that will change meaningfully with the new bill, whatever the specifics and whenever it does happen.