Can you believe it!? A LONG overdue Farm Bill has been approved in the House of Representatives and now moves on for approval from the Senate and then eventually onto the President’s desk for his signature. The Farm Bill has been on the minds of many farmers and ranchers for the last couple of years, and any time it seemed like progress could be made, it got derailed by partisanship.
Now with a new Farm Bill, farmers and ranchers will have certainty of what programs they can expect from the government over next five years. Many farm organizations supported the bill with a few groups in opposition. Many of the groups that supported the bill supported the reforms to safety net programs as well as the investment in Ag research and renewable energy. Those that opposed the bill were unhappy that the COOL measure (Country of Origin Labeling) was still part of the new Farm Bill. They cite that the COOL measure is not compliant with the World Trade Organization’s rules and regulations. Because of that it could cause conflict with some of our trading partners, such as Canada and Mexico.
Although the passage of the Farm Bill in the House has led to the feeling of accomplishment by some, it makes me wonder what future Farm Bills will be like. It took nearly three years for Congress to finally reach an agreement on the new Farm Bill. That was three years of partisanship between two parties who couldn’t seem to find common ground. Instead of doing what was right for America’s hardworking farmers and ranchers as well as ALL Americans, congress put its party and ideology first. So far partisanship in Washington has only grown worse and makes me ask what it will be like when the new Farm Bill expires. If it took nearly three years to pass this bill, will it take even longer for the next one? Will congress kick the livelihoods of farmers and ranchers around like a soccer ball until something disastrous happens and forces them to do something? Will urban congressional delegates become even more out of touch with America’s agriculture industry? These are questions I keep asking myself and I think others need to consider as well.
While we can consider the new Farm Bill an accomplishment, we still have not accomplished showing those in Washington how important working together is and the impact their policies can have on the livelihoods of our farmers and ranchers. All of us involved in producing a safe and abundant supply of food need to continue to educate those who represent us in Washington as well as the general public. We also have to stand up for what we believe in and not let those who do not understand what we do determine our future. America’s agriculturalists are some of the hardest working people in our country who love what they do, which is growing food for the nation and world. So let’s consider the passage of the new Farm Bill an accomplishment but realize we as an industry still have a lot to accomplish in the years ahead!