Might Congress actually split up the gigantic farm bill?

posted at 1:21 pm on June 27, 2013 by Erika Johnsen

We call the large, deliberately convoluted, and $1 trillion/ten years legislation that recently crashed and burned in the House the “farm bill,” but in reality, the majority of the bill’s monetary substance is all about providing funding for the ever-expanding federal food stamp program. The rest of the bill is all about the agriculture sector and the many forms of subsidies, protections, and special assistance they have continually and increasingly received since the Depression era, in effect amounting to little more than corporate pork.

The food stamp program and agriculture policies have long been wedded together in a marriage of convenience, bringing urban/food stamp representatives in league with rural/agriculture respresentatives. Transparency, efficiency, and accountability would suggest that these two items should be separated into their own more specific bills so that we can avoid the relentless amendment-adding and slow down the bill’s usual inertia for more careful consideration, but its present form has a convenient knack for uniting disparate interests in a joint effort to protect the status quo.

After the farm bill’s failure to make it through the House and to conference with the Senate, however, House leadership is going to be thinking about ways they can re-strategize and get this thing passed. House Republican Leader Eric Cantor is apparently mounting an effort to try and sort the package into two separate bills, although it most unfortunately sounds like it’s more of a way to just give the idea some air rather than an effort with a viable chance at this point. Via Politico:

In adopting its own farm bill this spring, the Senate treated the package as a whole, funding food stamps and commodity programs together as they have been for decades. Even if Cantor were successful, splitting the House farm bill now into two seems to raise real problems about the scope of what those talks would be — though it could at least create a vehicle to begin.

For Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and larger American agriculture interests, the two-bill approach represents a major challenge: Do they allow themselves to be whittled down more from the right or embrace a larger reform agenda that rebuilds the old urban-rural coalition more from the middle? …

The [House Agriculture] committee leaders face criticism themselves for being too hesitant in pushing larger reforms. But they could have a common stake with the speaker in trying to find more middle ground. …

“For the farm bill to be successful there must be a conference report that the House is able to pass,” said Ferd Hoefner, policy director for the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. “That is only even conceivable if the House GOP leaders drive to the middle and not to the extremes. Splitting the bill in two possibly jeopardizes passing anything at all now, and for sure means there will never be a final positive vote on a conference report.”

Again, it doesn’t look too probable at this point, though we’ll see how Congress tries to play it — but how messed up is it that actually separating bills into more easily discernible versions, instead of just sailing them through while we deficit spend a trillion dollars every year, is a hallmark of that awful brand of “right-wing extremism”?


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Look how much money we can save if we don’t pass anything.

Oil Can on June 27, 2013 at 1:25 PM

I’m sure corporations like Wise, Coca-Cola, Mars Candy, Tastycake, &c are all for this latest mess from government.

Liam on June 27, 2013 at 1:30 PM

BREAKING NEWS TO BERNIE SANDERS….

Just add an amendment like Barney Frank wants and allow states to regulate Heroin and Cocaine like an agricultural product. Then you could tax it, and bring in those extra funds to D.C. to SSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSPPPPPPPEND you Beltway geniuses.

http://reason.com/blog/2013/06/27/barney-frank-says-its-time-to-legalize-h

Former Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) has a new book coming out soon in which he’ll make a case for drug legalization, reports The Huffington Post’s Sam Stein.

“The question is are there drugs that have a very good likelihood of making me misbehave towards others? I do not believe heroin is in that category,” Frank told Stein. “What makes people misbehave is the need to steal money to buy heroin.”

The former co-sponsor of a marijuana prohibition repeal bill went on to say that cocaine should also be legal. “First of all, with cocaine, let’s just cut through the bull t,” Frank said. “There are a lot of very high-functioning people in this society on cocaine. Cocaine is the rich people’s drug. That is just silly.”

Frank, who says he’s never used heroin, would still want to “restrict the manufacture” of “PCP and other things.”

Could we just allow the Bay State to do whatever they want provided they build a big wall around the state to keep their collapsing society inside. And hells bells, might as well legalize Meth, and just plain old crime. Because if it’s legal would people really want to commit murder or mayhem? Aren’t they just drawn to it because it’s a forbidden fruit?

Dear God, save our nation………we’re killing ourselves.

PappyD61 on June 27, 2013 at 1:31 PM

I think this would be a good idea. It would force the farm subsidies people out on a limb to justify why the Federal government should have a hand in attempting to control food prices. Having said that, it will never happen. Plus it would take a couple of years for the “real” prices to settle in. And in the meantime Congress Critters would be shouting from the rooftops “I told you so” when food price inflation spikes in the near term.

Johnnyreb on June 27, 2013 at 1:32 PM

Might Congress actually split up the gigantic farm bill?

I actually hope they do this….

..then proceed to shove both Bills up their Azzes….

ToddPA on June 27, 2013 at 1:33 PM

O/T (Again!): Pelosi has a screw loose…but we knew that.
http://cnsnews.com/news/article/pelosi-we-need-paul-revere-running-through-streets-saying-sequester-coming

onlineanalyst on June 27, 2013 at 2:14 PM

OT – your senate PIGS, from both sides.

Schadenfreude on June 27, 2013 at 2:38 PM

We call the large, deliberately convoluted, and $1 trillion/ten years legislation that recently crashed and burned in the House the “farm bill,” but in reality, the majority of the bill’s monetary substance is all about providing funding for the ever-expanding federal food stamp program.

Here here! You finally heard those in the comments (including me) shouting this over and over again. Thanks. Keep it up.

cptacek on June 27, 2013 at 2:50 PM

I like the idea of splitting the farm subsidy bill from the food stamp bill. If we stop paying farmers for NOT producing crops on productive land, food prices will decrease, meaning either we need to spend less on food stamps, or the same dollars in food stamps will buy more food.

It’s a win-win for everyone, except maybe for Moochelle worried about food-stamp recipients becoming obese on too much food!

Steve Z on June 27, 2013 at 2:52 PM

Some of that money for Conservation needs to go away too. Did you know that you can get paid to put “frog ladders” in your stock tanks so creepy crawlies have a way to get out? Paid to no till, paid to fix windmills, paid to put in rural water lines, paid to do intensive grazing, paid to put in wind breaks (lines of evergreen trees), paid to put chemicals on at a certain application rate/below a certain wind speed/at a certain droplet size to stop wind carry…etc. The Conservation part of it is entirely a boondoggle, just requires paperwork.

cptacek on June 27, 2013 at 3:05 PM

Look how much money we can save if we don’t pass anything.

Oil Can on June 27, 2013 at 1:25 PM

I’ll second that.
Just shiitecan the bill entirely.

dentarthurdent on June 27, 2013 at 3:17 PM

You could say that it’s ironic that the Senate that hasn’t produced an actual Federal budget in five years (as opposed to a bunch of “continuing resolutions” and “stimulus packages”) is now hot to pass a “farm bill”.

Except that it’s really more the sort of “omnibus spending bill” we got used to during the heyday of LBJ’s “Great Soviety”.

Durn, I meant “Great Society”, but I think my finger is more insightful than I am. Well, after all, this bill does include a Five Year Plan for agriculture. (“Trofim Denisovich Lysenko, pick up the red courtesy phone, please.“)

And oh yes, it looks like there’s going to be a “stimulus package” tacked on to this one, in addition to the immigration bill.

I’m guessing our Sunday morning farm program on local radio will be all about “Pass this bill now or food prices will skyrocket”. That was the song last week.

Splitting it up would be the intelligent thing to do. So would taking a hard look at farm subsidies, especially for non-food farm products like ethanol and tobacco.

Not to mention taking a hard look at how many of those “family farms” our so-called representatives bloviate about “dying” if we don’t give them huge amounts of tax money (and windmills- don’t forget windmills!) are the property of that “farm family” called Archer Daniels Midland.

Which is so “poor” that it’s a big sponsor of…ABC News. That somehow never gets around to asking what ADM does with all that “family farm” money.

clear ether

eon

eon on June 27, 2013 at 3:49 PM

It is kind of amazing that there is a USDA office in every county in America.
Who knew what a need there was for agricultural assistance in Brooklyn NY?

Another Drew on June 27, 2013 at 5:54 PM

Could we just allow the Bay State to do whatever they want provided they build a big wall around the state to keep their collapsing society inside.

Pappy, you’ve got the wrong end of the country for that fence.
That big sucking sound you’re going to hear as a State’s economy implodes will be from Kalifornia, and it’s going to have to be a very stout fence to hold back the vortex.

Another Drew on June 27, 2013 at 5:58 PM

Government doing nothing is good.

ama on June 27, 2013 at 5:59 PM