Commentary: Attack of the Farm Bill zombies

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It’s a curious coalition that always creeps out of the deep woods to oppose the farm bill which, in one form or another, has ensured U.S. supplies of food and fiber since the 1930s.

It’s sort of like an episode of The Walking Dead. One group of zombies swoops in from the deep woods of the left, believing that attacking modern agriculture in their typical Luddite fashion will produce the environmental utopia of which they dream. 

The other group of anti-farm bill “walkers” coming in from the right (you’d have to see the show) pretty much just says no to everything. A dollar spent on anything, in their view — even something like a national food policy — is just another target for cutting. 

Here’s the thing: If you like to eat and you like the idea that this country should maintain the ability to grow its own food, you are for a U.S. farm bill — whether you know it or not. 

Chew on these facts:  

  • The European Union subsidizes its agriculture at a level more than twice that received here. Without an American farm bill, our own farmers are competing against the treasuries of foreign competitors.
  • There are the budding agricultural superpowers like Brazil who hold the advantage of really cheap labor. We are obligated to pay our workers a U.S. style living wage.

U.S. farmers, for the most part, depend on U.S. banks to loan the money to plant each spring. A well grounded farm bill — such as the proposal sent to Capitol Hill by the American Farm Bureau Federation — is designed to keep farmers working the land to provide a steady supply of food for American consumers. And, it provides assurance to these bankers that the money they loan will be paid back.

Otherwise, most of our food will come from beyond these shores. Don’t worry about that, though. We could inspect maybe one percent of that food to make sure it is safe and wholesome with current resources. Feel better?

That’s why, despite the wailing of the zombies, Congress ALWAYS passes a farm bill. It’s the responsible thing to do.

They will this time, too. And we’ll all be better for it.

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Todd Koeppel    
Wisconsin  |  April, 12, 2013 at 09:01 AM

You forgot to mention the zombies who are for the farm bill and benefit most from it, the food processors.

Gene Hall    
Waco, TX  |  April, 12, 2013 at 09:47 AM

And consumers, too, Todd. With the most affordable food supply in the world. Thanks for including this today, Drovers.

Todd Koeppel    
Wisconsin  |  April, 12, 2013 at 10:10 AM

Yes, consumers, too. However, as far as it goes for consumers, it's a shell game. The price of food is reduced at the expense of increased taxes.

so.VT  |  April, 12, 2013 at 10:12 AM

if they keep taking farming out of the bill they might as well call it the" food stamp bill" because that's all that will be left in it.

Todd Koeppel    
Wisconsin  |  April, 12, 2013 at 10:27 AM

Yes, cate. You're correct.

Batavia, NY  |  April, 12, 2013 at 10:35 AM

" If you like to eat and you like the idea that this country should maintain the ability to grow its own food, you are for a U.S. farm bill". "It’s a curious coalition that always creeps out of the deep woods to oppose the farm bill which, in one form or another, has ensured U.S. supplies of food and fiber since the 1930s". That to me is OFFENSIVE! Every farmer that has been successful at growing crops or cattle should be offended anytime someone says that America has had a great food supply because of the government and the government subsidies. I think the credit should go to the farmers who have worked so hard to make this happen. Of course the farm bill should be reduced. There will still be food produced in this country. It is absurd to say that without a farm bill we will have to import all of our food. Now if someone wants to say that we have produced a lot of food in spite of the government, I am listening.

SD  |  April, 12, 2013 at 01:54 PM

Isn't the purpose of the subsidies (or was originally) to assure that the citizens can AFFORD to eat the food produced? While making it possible for farmers to be able to make a modest living while producing that food? Granted, the food processors make money doing what they do, however how many consumers are going to start with what comes from the farms and make it ready to eat????? Darn few, is my guess! No doubt, improvements can be made, starting with every statement coming out of USDA telling the truth about where the money goes: more than 85% for free food to those who say they need it. Some do, some could help themselves far more than they do. There could be improvements in subsidies to farmers, too. We have to realize the fiscal disaster that is the US DEFICIT has to be addressed better than it is, and all are going to have to participate in that.

Todd Koeppel    
Wisconsin  |  April, 12, 2013 at 03:10 PM

Amen, Ken. I too am offended by such statements.

north east  |  April, 12, 2013 at 04:23 PM

Well ken, Obama said "You didn't build that". sarcasm off. The further we get from that original bill the worse off farmers are.

Weld County, Colorado  |  April, 15, 2013 at 09:10 AM

Patrick Henry was no zombie when he said, "Give me liberty or give me death". Maybe he should have said Give me liberty or give me food--which would then make him a zombie. Do you all get it??????????

April, 18, 2013 at 11:37 AM


Iowa  |  April, 18, 2013 at 11:52 AM

If you take the food stamps out of it, there would be no farm bill at all--as there are not enough legislators to get it passed solely for crop insurance and ag support programs. Farmers owe the entire farm bill to the fact that food stamps has been attached to it all along. Careful what ye ask for, lest ye receive it.

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