Thursday, January 3, 2013

What didn't happen with the Farm Bill

Part of the cliff-avoidance legislative package left much of our agriculture sector still standing on the edge.

The 2008 Farm Bill was renewed until September.   Doesn't sound bad until you realize that no change is a reactionary move.  The kinds of programs we'd hoped to see more of - in support of small farms, conservation, generational transition among farmers, etc. aren't going to happen any time soon.   Subsidies of conventional crops, some of which are now seen as not much needed even by the farmers, will continue.
Here's a short story from this morning on NPR

Why did this happen?  Because even though the Sentate passed a new and more progressive farm bill in early summer, and the House Agriculture community moved it along, House leadership failed to bring it   to the floor.  So are all those rural folks going to continue to vote Republican?   Why?

Many ag advocacy organizations worked for a modified extension.  We here of the Interfaith Sustainable Agriculture Collaborative signed on.  But it just didn't have the traction needed.
The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition called the extension of the 2008 bill "awful" - which I think is more disparaging than using profanity would have been.

A quick internet search revealed that both sustainable and conventional agriculture leadership are complaining.  Conventional dairy farmers got caught in the price fixing bind.   Consumers may celebrate that milk prices do not rise, but it's inevitable that they will eventually as more dairymen and women go out of business.

A few useful programs in the 2008 bill had been unfunded since the fall - but they were refunded by this extension.  Some of them are even programs that help reduce negative environmental impacts of farming.  And SNAP is fully funded again for now, though the fiscal reactionaries are breathing fire in its direction.

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