By Gene Hall
In the wake of a farm bill debate that has been twisted into some pretty odd rhetoric of late, a growing chorus of critics has pronounced that the coalition of interests known as “the farm lobby” is losing some clout. Personally, if anyone has been watching our nation’s capital, it’s clear that passing ANYTHING these days is a Herculean task. Maybe it’s not so much that the farm lobby has trouble moving the ball. Perhaps it’s that the goal posts keep getting moved back.
The farm lobby has always brought logic to the table. That’s why lawmakers usually listen. Even folks who don’t depend directly on selling farm products are linked to agriculture by that most elemental of ties—food. It is also true that farmers and ranchers tend to vote in much higher percentages. Often, they have been the deciding vote in close elections.
Add to that a couple of hard facts. A pure application of one faction’s pure and supposedly constitutional free market could very well mean growing our food somewhere else. From the left, we have the idea that there is no limit to the amount of regulation you can heap on farmers and ranchers. This, too, would export our food production that is the envy of the world to—some other place. The decline of the farm lobby is a favorite subject of those who need for it to go away to get what they want.
If you believe, as I do, that maintaining the ability to grow our own food is a national security issue, then maybe the farm lobby still has something to say.