Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Pondering the Farm Bill and Integrity

Sometimes I get frustrated trying to piece together pieces of information that show up in my "social media news feed". So many things just don't make sense to me. I want the public to see agriculture as an environment that has integrity, but there is a lot that goes on that seems to fight against that. Let me explain a couple of these things.

The U.S. House of Representatives just passed the piece of legislation known as "The Farm Bill" today (1/29/14). It is a massive pile of money that affects every American in some way or other since it affects food production, land use, the environment, charity toward the hungry, and we all eat. Here is a chart and an article that speaks to some of it.

An article from the Washington Post

The $956 billion farm bill, in one graph
The article talks about how this money helps promote U.S. crops abroad.

"Trade, $3.5 billion over 10 years (little change). This money is used to promote U.S. crops overseas and provide food aid abroad. "

But the article does not tell you (they probably don't know) that this legislation does not adjust U.S. laws (MCOOL) to comply with our treaty obligations. Since the U.S. has been found at fault in this matter by the courts in the WTO, this legislation virtually assures that our foreign trading partners will place retaliatory tariffs on U.S. crops/products entering their country, costing the U.S. jobs and hard earned market share. Why are we spending money to promote crops and then losing it by fighting over a lost issue? Here is a link if you want to get details WTO MCOOL summary

Much is made of the amount of money being spent on Food Stamps (SNAP) and mighty arguments are fought over reductions and what should be done. It can be seen as American charity toward the poor or Congress trying to buy votes with our money. In either case it is money for U.S. citizens. But as best I can understand it, USDA is advertising the program in Mexico. Couldn't we at least cut the advertising program and there by save those dollars and perhaps reduce the pressure on the border from people trying to enter the U.S. illegally? Here is an article that explains some of this issue.

an article about the USDA advertising in Mexico

USDA partnering with Mexico to boost food stamp participation
These are just two of the things that jump out at me as I read my "social media news stream)

I sit and shake me head. I know the "Farm Bill" is needed for many reasons. I get that. But I sure hate having to take the bad with the good. Where is the integrity in that?

Thanks for thinking along with me.