Farm Bill

August 17, 2017

August 17, 2017

Hello everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by the National Corn Growers Association and CropLife America. They are friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America. Thank you.

And now for today’s commentary—

Today, I’m going to talk about the farm bill, but before I get started on that, my thoughts on the tragic Charlottesville riots where a hate monger from a different state slammed into the crowd with his car killing one young lady and injuring many others. The intention of the white nationalist rally was to prevent the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee. The result was death and destruction. President Trump condemned the Ku Klux Klan and Neo Nazis. “Hatred and bigotry have no place in America.” He also said, “There is blame on both sides.”

I agree, but this is not the first example of race rioting and probably will not be the last. Remember Ferguson, Baltimore, Dallas – and other examples of confrontation fueled by the violent left; property destroyed, cars burned, stores ransacked, police officers shot. There are bad people out there on both sides. We don’t need these kinds of unlawful and sometimes deadly encounters.

Now, let’s consider the farm bill. Congress started writing farm bills in the 1930s to help farmers through the Great Depression. Every four or five years, we get a new farm bill. The farm bill is more than farm programs. Nutrition programs, including food stamps, spend about 80% of the money. Then, we have farm supports led by crop insurance, conservation, and the Forest Service. Our current farm bill runs out September 30, 2018 – little more than one year from now. There has been some talk of separating the nutrition programs from the farm programs. That will not work. Food programs and farm programs need to find common ground. I think they will. There is pressure to cut the overall spending, but then the question is, who do you take the money from? And, the battle begins.

On the food stamp front, one approach to save some money would be to impose some work requirements on able-bodied recipients. We have twice as many on food stamps today as we did when I was Secretary of Agriculture.

Crop insurance could be a target, but I think it will stand its ground. Cotton is looking for help, and so is dairy. Wheat production is down, and they may be able to justify some bump up in support.

The House and Senate Agriculture Committee Members are having hearing sessions with farmers and others interested in the bill. This is just the beginning. Secretary Perdue took an RV tour with stops in five Midwest states. These are listening sessions now, but the real business will start soon.

My opinion on the 2018 farm bill, when all is said and done, is that it will not be very different from the one we have now. Stay tuned.

If you would like to review my radio shows going back more than 20 years, just go on-line to Have a great weekend.

Until next week, I am John Block from Washington.