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An editorial column from the Missouri Farm Bureau Federation,
Commentary may be used as an op-ed piece or letter to the editor.


Farm Bill May Be Falling Prey to Partisanship

BY ERIC BOHL

Farm Bill May Be Falling Prey to Partisanship

Through all the infighting, partisan bickering and political grandstanding recently, farm policy has been the last stronghold of civility in Washington, D.C.

For the past 85 years Congress has written and passed a major agriculture policy law, referred to as a farm bill, about every five years. These bills address a huge range of issues from childhood hunger to corn prices, migratory bird habitat to urban gardening. This broad-ranging agenda has kept the House and Senate Agriculture Committees generally free of the partisanship and gridlock so paralyzing our nation’s capital in recent years. There have always been disagreements on crop risk management, hunger prevention programs and many other policy areas, but by and large the elected officials worked together peacefully to come to a mutual solution.

In 2018, this seems to have changed. The current farm bill expires at the end of September, and Congress has little time for action before election season brings lawmaking to a standstill. Unfortunately, the prospects of passing a full five-year farm bill have become mired in major partisan disagreements about changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps. Republicans insisted on adding work requirements to the program, which Democrats said amounted to a poison pill for the entire bill.

Democrats walked away from the table and refused to even participate in drafting the final House Agriculture Committee version of the bill, refusing to even offer amendments to change what they disliked. Republican members would not budge. On April 18 the bill passed committee on a 26-20 strict party-line vote. The full House of Representatives will now take up the bill, but partisan wrangling over this issue is already threatening to sink the legislation.

This is a particularly bad time for politics to inject uncertainty into farming. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently forecast 2018 inflation-adjusted net farm income to be at its lowest point in 17 years. Most crop and livestock prices are entering their fifth consecutive year of consistently low prices. Farm land prices and input costs remain high, making margins extremely thin. Threatened Chinese tariffs already have many farmers very worried about further drops in the farm economy.

When the last farm bill expired in 2012, gridlock in the House of Representatives prevented enactment of a full five-year bill, instead forcing two separate one-year extensions before the current five-year bill was passed in 2014.

However, the typically more tight-knit Agriculture Committees did not devolve into an all-out political brawl like they have in 2018. Farm country has been losing population, and hence Congressional representation, for decades. If farm-state lawmakers cannot stick together on the bill that gives their economies some stability and predictability, it will get torn apart by the full Congress and potentially devastate the agricultural economy.

Hopefully cooler heads will prevail in the coming weeks and representatives can reach an agreement that allows a full five-year farm bill to pass. Rural members of both parties have long found ways to come together for rural America, and Congressional farm-state lawmakers should return to the civility that has worked so well for so long. 


Eric Bohl, of Columbia, Mo., is director of public affairs for Missouri Farm Bureau, the state's largest farm organization.

An editorial column from the Missouri Farm Bureau Federation, Commentary may be used as an op-ed piece or letter to the editor.

 
COMMENTARY ARCHIVES


07-20-2017 - Dad's Farm Jacket

06-29-2017 - Come and Get It!

06-14-2017 - Meet Someone

04-13-2017 - A Story to Remember

03-15-2017 - Paying it Forward

03-01-2017 - The Rural-Urban Divide

12-29-2016 - Ringing in Reform

12-08-2016 - A System That Works

11-03-2016 - Farmers' Almanac Finds

10-27-2016 - I Will Vote

09-29-2016 - How Bout Them Apples

09-22-2016 - Asterisks

09-08-2016 - Practicing Patience

07-21-2016 - Meet me at the Fair

07-07-2016 - GROW

05-26-2016 - Taps

05-20-2016 - A Seat at the Table

05-12-2016 - Nothing Beats a Burger

03-17-2016 - Busy People

02-25-2016 - A Dog in the Manger

02-18-2016 - Me and My Kayak

01-28-2016 - More or Less Winter

01-21-2016 - The Time for Thanks

12-30-2015 - Resolutions of Reform

12-23-2015 - Beyond Blessed

12-17-2015 - The Farmer's Tale

12-03-2015 - 'Tis the Season

12-01-2015 - What matters most

11-05-2015 - Food is simple

10-15-2015 - What's with the Weeds?

10-01-2015 - Fall Flavor Favorite

09-24-2015 - Why Tour Farms?

09-10-2015 - Bring the Kids

08-13-2015 - Farm Kids and the Fair

08-06-2015 - Rock Stars

07-30-2015 - Gone, but not for good

07-16-2015 - Time Well Spent

07-09-2015 - Behind the Wheel

06-25-2015 - A State of Discovery

06-10-2015 - Pickup Trucks

05-29-2015 - Real Deal Dairy

05-14-2015 - Decoration Day

04-30-2015 - Who's Driving

04-29-2015 - Proper Road Etiquette

04-10-2015 - Differing Definitions

04-02-2015 - Boots on the Ground

03-19-2015 - Who Will Speak Up?

02-12-2015 - The HITs Keep Coming

02-05-2015 - No Skin in the Game

01-07-2015 - Food Fandom

12-18-2014 - The Farmer's Tale

11-13-2014 - If It Ain't Broke

11-06-2014 - Scars on their Souls

10-30-2014 - A Wish for Winter

10-16-2014 - Timing is Everything

10-02-2014 - Food Prices Fluctuate

07-24-2014 - Lessons from the Past

07-03-2014 - Fire up the Grill!

06-26-2014 - Watching Tomatoes Grow

06-12-2014 - Say Yes

05-29-2014 - Join the Chorus

03-20-2014 - Small Steps on Ag Day

03-06-2014 - The First Green Pop

02-20-2014 - Good Storytellers

01-23-2014 - Costly Miscalculations

01-16-2014 - Resilience and Resolve

01-09-2014 - Cheerios and GMOs

12-26-2013 - New Year Focus

11-26-2013 - Right Words

11-14-2013 - Mama's Sofa

11-08-2013 - Paying Our Own Way

10-25-2013 - No Easy Fix

10-10-2013 - A Farmer's Sacrifice

10-03-2013 - Must-See TV

09-26-2013 - Chipotle, at It Again

09-13-2013 - Naked is Still Naked

07-25-2013 - Let's Play Ball

06-13-2013 - Rural is Relative

06-06-2013 - Playing by the Rules

05-30-2013 - Uncertainty is Certain

05-02-2013 - Watch and Wait

04-18-2013 - City Cousins

04-11-2013 - What You Don't Know

02-28-2013 - Barefoot in the Dirt

02-14-2013 - Rural Relevance

02-07-2013 - How It's Made

01-17-2013 - A Green Mindset

01-03-2013 - Knowing Your Neighbors

12-20-2012 - The Spare Parachute

12-06-2012 - Last Minute Shoppers

11-15-2012 - Attitude of Gratitude

11-08-2012 - Thanksgiving Time

11-01-2012 - Bacon is Big

10-25-2012 - Rural Votes Matter

10-11-2012 - The Farm Bill Big Deal

09-07-2012 - Farm Progress

08-23-2012 - A Real Dilemma

08-16-2012 - The Next Season

08-09-2012 - Land of Legacy

07-19-2012 - All Things Considered

07-06-2012 - One of Those Years

06-28-2012 - The Real Uncle Sam

06-07-2012 - Something Certain

05-11-2012 - Not Asparagus

04-05-2012 - Something to See

03-22-2012 - Doing Our Part

03-15-2012 - Farmers Get Trendy

02-23-2012 - We Reap What We Sow

02-02-2012 - Fanfare for Farmers

01-27-2012 - Recovery from Ruin

01-19-2012 - A New Coffee Shop

12-15-2011 - The Farmer's Tale

12-08-2011 - Made in USA

11-22-2011 - Tired from Retiring

11-03-2011 - Scars on Their Souls

10-20-2011 - Hooked on Halloween

09-15-2011 - Told You So!

08-17-2011 - They're BACK!

08-11-2011 - A New Type of Vacation

08-04-2011 - Perfection, Summer

07-28-2011 - It's a Show-Me Thing

07-07-2011 - Country Girl

05-12-2011 - Land Grab Underway

04-14-2011 - Earth Day Controversy

01-20-2011 - EPA, TMDL and AFBF

01-14-2011 - A Word of Caution

12-29-2010 - Mincemeat Madness

12-15-2010 - The Farmer's Tale

12-01-2010 - A Tale of Two Farmers

11-04-2010 - Scars on Their Souls

09-16-2010 - Ratify to Help Rectify

09-01-2010 - Cut to the Crash

08-18-2010 - It's Not about Puppies

07-28-2010 - What a Great Ride!

07-15-2010 - Just a Smidgen More!

06-24-2010 - Oh, Oh - SpaghettiOs

05-20-2010 - Weiner Patties?

05-13-2010 - Farmland Restoration

04-15-2010 - God Bless You 14 Times

03-12-2010 - Don't CAP Our Future!

02-05-2010 - Thank A Farmer

01-15-2010 - Food Prices Leveling!

12-17-2009 - The Farmer's Tale

12-11-2009 - Who is in Charge?

12-04-2009 - Deal or No Deal?

11-24-2009 - Connect the Dots