By now you’ve heard this week’s big news in agriculture about the farm bill’s defeat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Just two weeks ago, National Pork Producers Council President Randy Spronk was talking about the optimism pork producers were feeling as the Senate version of the farm bill progressed through the system. Now this!
Reuters summarized the farm bill’s demise as being the result of Republican budget-cutters joining with Democratic defenders of food stamps. Many media outlets have pointed out that in the past, the farm bill has been a model of bipartisan support generally moving through Congress with ease. Now it seems legislators have forgotten where their food comes from. National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson said, “The House has let down rural America. We are deeply disappointed that the House voted against the best interests of family farmers and rural America.”
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack is also disappointed, "The failure by the House leadership, for the second year in a row, to reach consensus on a Food, Farm and Jobs Bill is a tremendous disappointment for all Americans. Twice now, the U.S. Senate has done its job and passed balanced, comprehensive legislation with overwhelming bipartisan support. Unfortunately, the House version of this bill would have unfairly denied food assistance for millions of struggling families and their children, while failing to achieve needed reforms or critical investments to continue economic growth in rural America. As a result, the House was unable to achieve bipartisan consensus."
It is mightily frustrating when U.S. consumers (and the legislators who represent them), seem to have so little understanding about where their food comes from, or the systems that are in place to make sure that affordable food supply keeps appearing, as if by magic, in their local grocery stores.
I’m always interested in the “rest of the story” when I read the news reports in the mainstream media about agricultural issues. Often, there is even more to be learned by following the comments listed below the stories. Sadly, the comments following yesterday’s farm bill coverage in the metropolitan and national news outlets too often was focused on some vague sense of a need to punish agriculture because of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) or “big ag,” whatever that may be. Hard-working producers are becoming more aware of the disconnect that exists between the people who eat the food, and those who produce it. There is a lot of work to do educating consumers and bolstering their trust. There is still time to treat topics such as the farm bill as a learning opportunity when having conversations with non-farm friends and neighbors. As one person noted on Twitter recently, it’s sad that the farm bill is getting coverage from the mainstream media after it failed. Like it or not, it’s becoming more apparent that it is up to producers to share the rest of the story on why it is important to support agriculture through legislation such as the farm bill.
National Hog Farmer’s sister publication, Delta Farm Press, provides excellent coverage of the farm bill voting process that took place in the U.S. House of Representatives, and the response that followed from agricultural groups here. Farms.com's Stu Ellis also gives the farm bill topic a thoughtful discussion here.
What is your opinion of the farm bill situation? Have you contacted your legislator? Share your thoughts and opinions in the “Comments” section below, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. National Hog Farmer will provide additional coverage in the Legislative Preview section of our Weekly Preview newsletter on Monday, and at http://nationalhogfarmer.com/.
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