Is There Really An Urgent Need To Pass The Farm Bill?

Farm Bill Cartoon

Liberal House candidate Pam Gulleson is making political hay over delays in passing the farm bill in the Republican-controlled House. She sent out the press release below today criticizing the delays, and also sent out this tweet from her campaign’s official account:

To be sure, North Dakota Republicans are urging passage of the farm bill as well. Gulleson’s opponent, Kevin Cramer, is urging forward progress on the bill as is incumbent Rep. Rick Berg (who is running for the Senate this cycle). But Gulleson’s push to pass the House version of the farm bill, which she has railed against for including too many cuts, is bizarre. So is the push by Republicans Cramer and Berg to pass the bill given that it contains far more funding for nutrition and food entitlement programs than farmers.

It’s all representative of the bizarre world of ag-state politics these days. None of these politicians really like the farm bill, but none of them want to be perceived as being anti-agriculture and inspiring the wrath of ag-industry voters which might cost them the election.

Meanwhile, non-political observers of the proceedings are wondering why there’s so much urgency in passing the legislation. This quote from a farm management expert at NDSU struck me as insightful:

Dwight Aakre, a farm management specialist with the NDSU Extension Service, said the approval of a bill Thursday by the House Agriculture Committee surprised him, but he still believes that meeting the September deadline is a “big hurdle.” Either way, he doesn’t understand the urgency.

“Nothing really changes for producers,” Aakre said. “There is way too much made of the idea that farmers need to know what the farm bill is in order to plan for next year. That’s just not true.”

Is there really a need to pass a farm bill? Or is that just a perception created by election-year politics? It seems as though the farm bill is less important to actual farmers and ranchers than it is to the crop insurance industry and the entitlement/nutrition programs that are embedded in the bill.

And why, if the farm bill really is so all-encompassing and vital, doesn’t anyone ask why working farmers and ranchers should have to worry about some bill passing in Washington DC impacting their livelihood? Don’t they have enough to worry about between the vagaries of weather and the markets without adding the never-ending soap opera of politics into the mix?

That there is so much concern over the farm bill is evidence of government being too involved in the industry.

Pam Gulleson Press Release About Farm Bill Delays

Rob Port is the editor of In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters.

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  • Emil Kashuntz

    Republicans hate welfare, but Rich Berg will get all he can for the farming welfare cheats in North Dakota. Way to much of this welfare goes to rich farmers who scam the system. Berg fights to take away health care for the poor, but no way will he take welfare away from farmers in North Dakota. Fighting for the one percent is a full time job.

    • Tim Heise

      blah blah blah blah.

    • Gern Blanston

      I wasn’t aware Berg was fighting to eliminate Medicaid.

      • Emil Kashuntz

        Maybe you didn’t hear about Berg fighting health care reform all the way so the insurance companies can keep raping us. Blue Cross is charging me 1200 per month and will not pay for anything. Meanwhile their excutives live the life of ease. All thanks to the Republicans my money goes for administration, not health care. Canada has health care at half of what we pay, but don’t let the facts bother you, that is why you listen to Rush and Fox.

        • 308T

          Move to Canada if you think it’s so damn great.

          • Emil Kashuntz

            Always the right wing answer. Never do what works in another country, just move to that country. This is right wing dinger logic at its finest. Every rational country in the world has gun control, but we have to keep getting people killed because of right wing NRA dingers.

          • Roy_Bean

            Socialist medecine doesn’t work in Canada, that’s why Canadians come here for health care. Why don’t you left-wing nut cases ever want to adopt the Swiss method of gun control, put a machine gun in every house?

          • realitybasedbob

            Mr. Bean, do you know what the easiest way to debunk a nutter’s claim is?

            That’s right!
            Look it up!

            The Ipsos/Reuters online poll found 75 percent of
            Swedes and nearly 70 percent of Canadians thought it would be fairly
            easy to get treatment if a relative became ill, compared to just 51
            percent of Americans.

            …The United States spends more than any
            other nation on healthcare — roughly 16 percent of its economy — but
            still has higher rates of infant mortality, diabetes and other illnesses
            than other rich countries.


          • robert108

            Completely free of cause and effect relationships, so just more superstitious mumbling from the usual source.

          • jl

            “Swedes and Canadians ‘thought’ it would be fairly easy…” Wow, very scientific data there, Bob. I “think”, therefore it is.

          • robert108

            Wrong. That’s the Democrat Party answer for the illegal invaders.
            The theater was in a gun-free zone, so you’re wrong there, as well.

        • jl

          Emil, thanks for staying on topic, the farm bill.

  • sbark

    No real reason or rush to pass the actual agriculture aspects of the farm bill for sure…….
    now…..the non-farm part of the bill………
    The Dem’cats are all riled up….becuase isnt the real reason the House is in no rush on the entire bill, because some 80%of the bill is essentially welfare / food stamps and crony facism…….hiking trails to nowhere………
    The GOP held house wants to cut spending……….and ObamaStamps are one place they think they can do it………
    When Cashnuts above complians about fraud…….the Food Stamp program is where the action is……..remember the lottery winner who kept drawing food stamps…….my point is made.

  • Kevin Flanagan

    Why should taxpayers prop up inefficient, under capitalized farms?

  • toomuchguvmint

    Just what our country doesnot need. More government programs that increase farmers dependency on a government teetering on insolvency. What is it about we don’t have the money these politicians do not understand. Would you not think we could have at least have a few conservatives that would realize that government should not be guaranteeing farmers’s investments and profits? I guess they feel good about giving the largest farmers the largest investment and profit guarantees and thinking they are saving the family farm.

  • howiseeit

    I have a perception about farmers. Please enlighten me if I am wrong. Farmers are an example of what is wrong with this country. People who are day to day conservatives but when it comes to voting they tend to vote – not for the good of the country – but vote for what is most likely to benefit them directly. I choose farmers because they are a group that tends to have huge programs aimed directly at them. Farmers please accept me apology because I like to eat and no one in the world eats as good as us in the USA. But I’m not sure it’s because of the goverment programs any more. It appears that this may not be quite true in ND given the recent a?? kicking of Earl Polmroy.