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

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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