The following post was added prior to the U.S. House vote to delay passage of the 2013 Farm Bill on the afternoon of June 20.
By Gene Hall
While left-wing environmental groups attacked farmers and the farm bill for years, farmers now are being hit from the right by the Heritage Foundation.
The conservative think tank has mounted a full frontal assault on the farm bill, recently passed by the Senate and now making its way through the House. The foundation has run some opinion pieces attacking every part of the farm bill. It says commodity titles of the Farm Bill should be split from the nutrition and food aid titles. Somehow, the foundation wants you to believe that the “farm part” of the farm bill would pass after you’ve angered everyone in America who considers hungry people part of their constituency. Good luck with that.
I have yet to read anything that suggests the Heritage Foundation would support a stand-alone farm bill. Here’s a news release where the foundation aggressively attacks both. Sounds to me like divide and conquer. It would be easy to knock off both once they’re split. Seems less than honest, doesn’t it?
The foundation likes the absolute pure application of the free market. That’s fine, but be sure you examine both the pig and the poke. A pure free market is like water. It flows where it will. In terms of agricultural production, it could flow to places where farm labor is a tenth of what it costs here and food safety regulation is more an afterthought than the serious thing it is here. Farmers are only too glad to deal with the minimum wage and safety regulations as the price of farming in America. It does, however, add costs.
A pure free market will most certainly push most row crop agriculture from these shores. At the end of the day, food security means growing it here.
In these days of harvesters that cost $500,000 and high six-figure operating loans, it is beyond reason to expect a banker to approve financing for a farmer without risk protection called crop insurance, the centerpiece of the new farm bill that everyone accepts will cost less than the last one.
“No” is an anti-farmer vote and Congress needs to understand that. There are some things only government can do. There are some things government should do. For the sake of agricultural towns, thousands of jobs and 20 percent of the Texas economy, maybe we should let our politicians know it’s time for this ideological circus to move on. We need serious thinkers, not right-wing or left-wing nonsense.