I have written before about the Farm Bill; in summary, it’s the sole piece of legislation that controls Agriculture policy in the U.S., but it also controls Food Stamps and other nutritional programs, mostly run by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The Farm Bill normally expires every 5 years. The last one was passed in 2008, and a one-year extension was passed last fall which expires this Monday, Sept 30th.
We are approaching a food crisis. If the current Farm Bill expires, the policy reverts back to the Agricultural Act of 1948, which brings farmers back to a parity index. Parity is based off an index, which reads:
The Agricultural Act of 1948 redefined
parity income, effective January 1, 1950, in the
…“Parity”, as applied to income, shall be
that gross income from agriculture which
will provide the farm operator and his
family with a standard of living equivalent
to those afforded persons dependent upon
other gainful occupation. “Parity”, as applied to income from any agricultural
commodity for any year, shall be that
gross income for such year as the average
gross income from such commodity for
the preceding 10 calendar years bears to
the average gross income from agriculture
for such 10 calendar years.
This would absolutely skyrocket prices for food products, everything from milk, bread, anything with high fructose corn syrup, etc. Parity would more than double milk prices per hundred-weight, push Corn prices to appx $6.80 a bushel (currently ~$4.54/bushel), and raise wheat prices as well. The point of all of this was to create a “cliff”, just like the fiscal cliff, to prevent a farm bill from being forgotten or not passed in time.
The Senate passed a Farm Bill in May, and recently, the House split the SNAP funding and Ag Bills apart, and voted to cut ~$40 Billion from SNAP, which the President promptly promised to Veto. Now it’s off to a conference session to discuss how to match the bills up to be passed. I urge the Senate to work with the House to make the necessary cuts and do what’s right. Our food policy is too important to be held hostage to partisan politics. I urge the Democrats to understand that cuts need to be made to the SNAP and Nutrition programs to eliminate fraud and waste, and I urge Republicans to understand that this is too important to try and use as a political tool.
Here’s another problem: now we have Ted Cruz’s “not-a-filibuster” and the debt crisis, so now this is getting pushed to the back burner to deal with that, when this is just as important for every American. Most of the Farm Bill programs will go a few more months, and SNAP and others have their budgets appropriated still, but this will not end well if we don’t come up with a reasonable solution soon.
The final nail in this coffin: President Obama and the Democrats on Capitol Hill will hang Republicans for this, saying that by standing their moral ground, they held up this bill and were the cause of food prices skyrocketing. It’s a no-win solution for the GOP, because no matter what, the Democrats come out looking much better. Please talk to your Representatives and Senators of both parties, and urge them to come to a good compromise. Your stomach, and your wallet, depend on it.
Edward Peichel | St. John’s University | @EdwardPeichel