Farm Bill Follies

Backers of the House Agriculture Committee’s extremist Farm Bill are currently scrambling to push something through before August recess.   The latest gambit is to circumvent the House floor by passing a short term extension and then go straight to conference with the Senate.   We’ve seen this ruse before.   Unable to pass their deeply flawed Farm Bill, the goal is to try and push through their agenda in a closed door negotiation with the Senate while holding the fate of farm and food policy hostage.

House members and the Senate alike should reject the House committee’s extremist positions and insist upon a responsible Farm Bill. 

Let’s step back for a minute and understand just what is being proposed.  Facing broad opposition because their bill includes budget busting costs that lock taxpayers into market distorting subsidies and a host of special interest provisions that dismantle transparent government, health protections, and environmental safeguards, committee members are trying to avoid a full public debate.  Ironically, they are using the devastating consequences of extreme weather and drought as their excuse to seal a deal before the public catches on to just how excessive the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2012 (H.R. 6083) really is.

In the name of protecting farmers from ongoing and future extreme weather , which scientists overwhelmingly link to the ravages of carbon pollution on our atmosphere, proponents want to eliminate  carbon cycle research funding and cripple conservation programs that help to mitigate against the impacts of global warming driven extreme weather. (For more details on this, please see my colleague’s blog.)   

At the same time, they have loaded the bill down with extraneous provisions that  risk exposing children to more dangerous pesticides, dismantle public input on how the lands they own are managed, and shockingly blocks states ability to set their own food safety and production standards.

H.R.6083 and the latest two-step of the House leadership exemplifies how backward House politics have become.  The truth of the matter is that the current debate has little to do with the public interest and everything to do with rewarding a narrow set of special interests at the expense of our bedrock environmental laws, science, and common sense.    

Any final farm legislation this year should emphatically reject these extreme positions.