Heritage Foundation sticks thumb in eye of farmers, farm bill

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.

Gene Hall

Public Relations Director
Texas Farm Bureau
I believe that the only hope for a food secure world is capitalism and reasonable profits for America’s farm and ranch families–that the first element of sustainability is economic survival.
Follow Gene on Twitter and Facebook.

3 Responses to “Heritage Foundation sticks thumb in eye of farmers, farm bill”

  1. Green Fields Project says:

    No. I think the first element of sustainability is for the farmer to take care of himself first and worry about feeding the poor and the hungry later. The farmer has a choice. Secure his own future, or feed the world. Trying to do both will ultimately accomplish niether. If we happen to produce more them we need for ourselves,.. HURRAY FOR OUR SIDE!
    Yes, I agree there are some things that the government, and only the government can do. Guaranteeing the safety of our food supply and creating a (more or less) level playing field in the market are two of those things. But having farmers waiting on politicians??? Who’s kidding who here? Farming is a purely volentary profession. Unfortunately what is happening is that we are being bribed. Subsidy here and a tax credit there. All meant to feed a population that seems to have nothing better to do then entertain itself. Bread and circuses.

    • Gene Hall says:

      Wow – to start with, I am at something of a disadvantage. You know my name. I do not know yours. I find your view pretty cynical. I like to think of myself as conservative, but I don’t think anyone has to go hungry to prove my point. And…U.S. agriculture is the only production plant left on earth with the resources, knowledge and wherewithall to take on this challenge. If we don’t, who will? I won’t comment further, but I think your post is a metaphor for the sorry state of our politics and our public discourse.

      • Green Fields Project says:

        “Farmers Feed The World” I remember the bumper sticker on our 71 pick-up truck. That statement is true only because no one else feeds anyone else. I also like to think of farming as humanities most important work.  What we do is the very definition of life. Do I want people to go hungry? Of course not. That would be inhuman. 

        It doesn’t matter who I am because I’m only saying what you already know. I agree without question that U.S. agriculture is the most productive endeavor known to mankind. Everyday is a bounty. Shelves everywhere are full to overflowing. We burn food for fuel,… Ethanol. It isn’t that we aren’t doing enough, we are. Perhaps even too much.  But I must ask a question. With all of the news concerning agriculture and of farms and of farmers and pundits and politicians, when was the last time farmers had a good day?

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  1. Heritage Foundation not welcome in farm bill discussion? | Texas Ag Talks - [...] to split these two elements of farm legislation so they could pick off either one easily.  Wait!  That was …

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