Farm Bill Smarm Bill
It is becoming increasingly clear that Ag is losing some clout in the hallowed halls of DC. Many provisions of the permanent law known collectively as the “Farm Bill” are set to expire on 30 September. Many times, that means we revert back to some really out of date provisions and no body is really excited about that.
This likely means that the Farm Bill will get an extension to kick it past key political events, likely to include early primaries in the presidential election. The official statement from the Senate is no later than end of the year, but I don’t buy it. The delay has been anticipated all summer, it is still a disappointment that our gridlocked government cannot handle basic food and fiber policy. The Bill covers commodities, research, food programs, rural development, crop insurance, food aid, and land stewardship provisions.
Part of the problem is that the food portion of the farm bill (which is included to get votes on rural policies from urban politicians) has become a whipping post for political rhetoric. Conservative republicans are expected to fight with liberal democrats on access to food aid (aka food stamps). The farm bill takes back seat to annual government funding legislation, which is also in limbo. Those fights get more eyeballs and views than fights about limits on food stamps, conservation payments and crop insurance.
We are the government; we don’t make mistakes.
A case out of South Dakota should be of interest to all farm operators who utilize FSA or NRCS programs. The fight of the case is an old erroneous determination of a wetland. The new operator found out that the wet area was caused by the installation of a shelter belt of trees many moons ago, not hydric wetland soils. Ironically, the government pushed and helped install many shelterbelt plantings in that time period. When the landowner obtained new information and presented it to the government for a review, the government said no thanks, we are good. Essentially indicating unless they want to acknowledge the error, they don’t have to.
In response to California’s Prop 12 production rule being upheld, and therefore requiring all producers in the US to conform to that state’s rules if you want to sell in that state, federal legislation was suggested. It is referred to at the EATS act. Ironically, the big producer companies seem to be indicating they will just comply with Prop 12. This is despite the Nation al Pork Producers group being among the largest opponents to the California law.
Perhaps, the big guys have already invested in complying and have considered the lack of market distinction and invalidation of the state and local regulations that the proposed federal legislation might bring.