Farm-bill talks kicking into gear while lobbyists vie for their special interests

posted at 9:21 pm on October 23, 2013 by Erika Johnsen

Lots of items about the Obama administration and their Congressional allies’ flurry over ObamaCare’s various woes on the docket today, but lest we forget that the government is still performing its regular task of finding new and exciting ways to spend your money, let me momentarily direct your attention to the farm-bill talks picking up steam behind the scenes. The committee tasked with reconciling the Senate farm bill with the House’s two agriculture policy and food stamps bills are getting down to business, with plans to meet next week, and you know what that means: The many special interests with a dog in this fight will not be denied. Via the NYT:

As the House and Senate prepare to meet next week to work out differences in their farm bills, lobbying efforts are intensifying to get last-minute changes to the 1,000-page legislation that sets the nation’s farm and nutrition policies.

A coalition of budget watchdog groups and a seafood trade group are lobbying to repeal a $20 million catfish inspection program at the Agriculture Department, which was put into the 2008 farm bill at the request of catfish farmers to limit imports. Opponents say it is duplicative because there is already a catfish inspection program at the Food and Drug Administration.

Food banks and other advocates are hoping to stop huge cuts to the food stamp program that they say will cause millions of people to go hungry.

And farm groups are asking lawmakers to maintain certain farm subsidy programs and resist making changes to others, like the sugar program, which limits domestic production and imports. Farm groups have also asked lawmakers to resist changes to the crop insurance program, which environmental groups say provides incentives for farmers to plant crops on land that is not suitable for farming.

So, just the usual stuff, really. Nothing to see here.

Meanwhile, over in South Dakota, regional newspaper Argus Leader was urging a federal appeals court today to reverse a previous ruling blocking the outlet from access to data on how much the government pays to stores that redeem food stamps benefits. The Most Transparent Administration Evah, in their usual fashion, is nixing the newspaper’s FOIA request, via Politico:

Jon Arneson, an attorney for the newspaper, told a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit that a lower court judge misinterpreted the law by ruling that a confidentiality provision for retailer applications allowed the U.S. Department of Agriculture to withhold all data on payments to those retailers. Under the Freedom of Information Act, the newspaper requested the data on annual payments to each retailer approved to take part in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. …

However, Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephanie Bengford said the confidentiality provision applies because the cumulative amount of payments to each retailer is based on the series of purchase transactions the stores submit to USDA. …

Arneson called that interpretation of the law “crazy.”

“For us to say that that because the program itself requires this sort of payment or swiping of the card that suddenly that transforms all of that information into private information is—is crazy,” the Argus’s lawyer told the judges. “What we’re simply asking for is how are the tax dollars spent. We’re not trying to invade the privacy of the recipient households.”

Decision still to come.


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I’m reading that the cut to the food program amounts to $36 a month which was the increase under the ’09 Obama Stimulus Program.

CoffeeLover on October 23, 2013 at 9:27 PM

‘Farm Bill’

Yeah, whatever..

*gag*

BigWyo on October 23, 2013 at 9:28 PM

In Lubbock, this bill is HUGE. There’s a lot of farmers here.

annoyinglittletwerp on October 23, 2013 at 9:29 PM

dKos already sent a fundraising email about the food stamps.

Jeff Weimer on October 23, 2013 at 9:30 PM

I don’t suppose we could manage to get rid of the Ethanol mandate, could we? Naah… just a dream.

Steven Den Beste on October 23, 2013 at 9:42 PM

…milk!

KOOLAID2 on October 23, 2013 at 9:42 PM

I heard an interesting statistic, only 1% of people on public assistance ever get off.

Tater Salad on October 23, 2013 at 9:54 PM

A coalition of budget watchdog groups and a seafood trade group are lobbying to repeal a $20 million catfish inspection program at the Agriculture Department, which was put into the 2008 farm bill at the request of catfish farmers to limit imports. Opponents say it is duplicative because there is already a catfish inspection program at the Food and Drug Administration.

lol — duplicate catfish inspection programs. :)

Each department of the federal government should have at least one catfish inspection program.

Axe on October 23, 2013 at 10:13 PM

First of all, split the “Farm Bill”. One bill for farm subsidies and another bill for food stamps. Enough of the mid-western legislators and big city legislators getting into bed with each other and screwing taxpayers.

Let each program stand on its own.

WestTexasBirdDog on October 23, 2013 at 11:03 PM

I’d love it if Congress would go to Florida and just stay there. We’ll pay even; just stay the hell away from the Capital.

MTF on October 24, 2013 at 12:09 AM

No more damned methanol subsidies! It doesn’t belong in our gasoline.

claudius on October 24, 2013 at 1:47 AM

Let each program stand on its own.

WestTexasBirdDog on October 23, 2013 at 11:03 PM

Amen! No more omnibus bills! If it takes you too long to pass all those separate bills, then you’re spedning too much money!

GWB on October 24, 2013 at 9:26 AM

I heard an interesting statistic, only 1% of people on public assistance ever get off.

Tater Salad on October 23, 2013 at 9:54 PM

Apparently I am a 1%er! Many years ago, my wife and I were on some public assistance when our 1st child (daughter) was born. I was finishing up college and working in a computer lab, and my wife was working retail. We were on foodstamps (but no money) for 3 months. We ate better than before foodstamps… but I couldn’t stand it any more and we got off and made it on our own.

I appreciate those 3 months, but I saw lots of people who were dependent on it… and they always acted like they were entitled to it. I did my best to finish out that last quarter and get a better job.

I think programs like foodstamps are useful, but should come with a 1 year cap on benefits… one year on, one year off… something like that. But never something that continues year after year after year… Better would be getting rid of it entirely and allowing the church charities to pick it up.

dominigan on October 24, 2013 at 9:47 AM

I’m sort of a 1%er too. I did the unemployment benefits when I got out of the service for a few months until I relocated with my girlfriend at the time. It was an interesting congruance, I couldn’t get a job because we were moving, but the move was 3 months away. So unemployment it was. and I felt a little bad about it, and it was a pain to certify that i was unemployed. And when I moved, I started the new job one week after relocating.

That side note done with,

I agree that the omnibus bills should be killed, outlawed, and the idea salted so that they can never happen again. The farm bill is further proof that the system needs to be fixed. And this coming from a former midwesterner.

More waste and graft from the govt. I don’t remember who, but someone a couple years ago had a map of where the farm bill money went and some of the top recepients were living in manhatten, NYC not KS.

todler on October 24, 2013 at 1:18 PM