As I mentioned last week, there’s been some discussion on Capitol Hill about the potential for splitting up the “farm bill” into at least two separate pieces of legislation after its epic and unexpected crash-and-burn in June. Separating the federal food stamp program and agriculture programs — ending their convenient perma-coupling that has united both rural and urban interests in defending the expensive, economically damaging, and special-interest serving status quo — would shine a lot of extra light on the bill’s individual programs, opening them up to more direct scrutiny and dissapating their usual omnibus legislative security. It could potentially mean curtains for a lot of the agribusiness lobby’s favorite subsidies and handouts — and they don’t like that at all. Via The Hill:
On Tuesday, K street fired off a letter to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) opposing that effort. It was signed by 532 national and regional organizations, including the American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Farmers Union, and major commodity groups such as the National Cotton Council and Southern Peanut Farmers Federation to the National Milk Producers Federation and American Soybean Association.
“America’s agriculture, conservation, rural development, finance, forestry, energy and crop insurance companies and organizations strongly urge you to bring the Farm Bill (H.R. 1947, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013) back to the Floor as soon as possible,” the letter states.
“It is vital for the House to try once again to bring together a broad coalition of lawmakers from both sides of the aisle to provide certainty for farmers, rural America, the environment and our economy in general and pass a five-year farm bill upon returning in July,” it states. “We believe that splitting the nutrition title from the rest of the bill could result in neither farm nor nutrition programs passing, and urge you to move a unified farm bill forward.”
The letters comes as Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-Ind.), who is leading the fight to split the bill, expressed increasing confidence in his quest this week.
Oh, good grief. House leadership is currently polling their members and is reportedly going to let a whip check lead the way forward following the recess, and unfortunately, the wishes of the agribusiness lobbies will likely weigh heavily in the minds of representatives on both sides of the aisle. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: The ability of agricultural interests to unite both Democrats and Republicans in the defense of spectacularly poor policies never ceases to amaze.