Lawrence Schuchart’s July 30 letter asked the reaction of “mom and pop family farmers” to the separation of the farm bill into farm policy and feeding programs (aka food stamps). Most common answer in my farm community is “it’s about time.”
We have allowed Congress to fall into a pattern of mega-bills too large for anyone but full-time lobbyists to read and understand. Focusing on issues separately allows for more transparency, better debate and less opportunity for brokered back scratching. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is a relatively recent addition to the farm bill, and has nothing to do with providing a market for U.S. farmers. It has everything to do with forcing urban congressional attention to farm policy, the ultimate national security issue. Bluntly, it buys urban votes.
The House Republican leadership understands voter frustration with 1,000-page bills that have to be passed before anyone knows what’s in them. Mega-bills are written by special interests and will always be inherently flawed, as the continued unwelcome surprises and exemptions granted in the rollout of Obamacare demonstrate. Passing a farm bill that focuses on farming is the start of a great trend.
Sue Lani W. Madsen