Commentary: Attack of the Farm Bill zombies
It’s a curious coalition that always creeps out of the deep woods to oppose the farm bill which, in one form or another, has ensured U.S. supplies of food and fiber since the 1930s.
It’s sort of like an episode of The Walking Dead. One group of zombies swoops in from the deep woods of the left, believing that attacking modern agriculture in their typical Luddite fashion will produce the environmental utopia of which they dream.
The other group of anti-farm bill “walkers” coming in from the right (you’d have to see the show) pretty much just says no to everything. A dollar spent on anything, in their view — even something like a national food policy — is just another target for cutting.
Here’s the thing: If you like to eat and you like the idea that this country should maintain the ability to grow its own food, you are for a U.S. farm bill — whether you know it or not.
Chew on these facts:
- The European Union subsidizes its agriculture at a level more than twice that received here. Without an American farm bill, our own farmers are competing against the treasuries of foreign competitors.
- There are the budding agricultural superpowers like Brazil who hold the advantage of really cheap labor. We are obligated to pay our workers a U.S. style living wage.
U.S. farmers, for the most part, depend on U.S. banks to loan the money to plant each spring. A well grounded farm bill — such as the proposal sent to Capitol Hill by the American Farm Bureau Federation — is designed to keep farmers working the land to provide a steady supply of food for American consumers. And, it provides assurance to these bankers that the money they loan will be paid back.
Otherwise, most of our food will come from beyond these shores. Don’t worry about that, though. We could inspect maybe one percent of that food to make sure it is safe and wholesome with current resources. Feel better?
That’s why, despite the wailing of the zombies, Congress ALWAYS passes a farm bill. It’s the responsible thing to do.
They will this time, too. And we’ll all be better for it.