In all the talks about the House Ag Committee draft Farm Bill, H.R. 2, there are many opposing views regarding the policies that Rep. Mike Conaway and the committee have proposed. Both praise and criticism have been expressed since the revealing of the draft bill and will likely carry on as the bill is debated on the floor. While some disagree with only specific programs, such as SNAP, others are as extreme as preferring not to have a Farm Bill whatsoever.
According to the National Farmers Union, “This is a weak bill that is wholly inadequate for American food producers and consumers, the environment, and rural communities.” The graphic posted on their Facebook page stated that the bill proposal, fails farmers and ranchers, hungry Americans, the environment, and growing markets. The draft bill seems to be opposite of what the NFU was hoping for. For more on NFU’s policy priorities for the Farm Bill, click here.
Another concern came from David E. Starling, DVM, of Aqueterinary Services P.C. and the Aquatic livestock industry. He found the bill inadequate in regard to the aquatic industry. He stated, “The USDA has proffered the NAAHP for almost a decade at the nation’s efforts to manage the diseases of aquatic livestock. However, there is no Federal Register notice to make the PROPOSED document final. The USDA has lagged well behind in promulgating regulations for aquatic animals. Other traditional livestock industries benefit from higher standards of import certification, interstate movements, stream-lined and coordinated animal health regulations, management of disease reporting, and better diagnostic capabilities. Other nations are moving ahead with regulations that could stop exports in their tracks because our system is pitifully deficient across many zones of international health requirements.”
The Food Bank NYC is urging a stronger SNAP program than what is currently proposed. This is the major debate between the House and Senate currently, and many disagree with the proposed requirements for the Nutrition Program. Food Bank NYC states, “This Farm Bill shows compassion for no one. It cuts food assistance from working families and jobless individuals alike, from older adults as well as children. Slashing funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) will only deepen the hunger crisis and increase hardship in our city.”
Furthermore, certain groups, such as The Heritage Foundation, believe Farm Bill subsidies aren’t necessary, and government regulation needs to be removed from agriculture all together. “Congress needs to stop meddling in farming. As legislators start their work on the next farm bill, they should focus on removing federal intervention in agriculture. This means providing a true safety net, not an out-of-control farm handout system. It also means reducing the crushing federal regulatory burden on farmers. If the vast majority of commodities can be produced profitably, with little to no government assistance, then so, too, can these crops.” In an article written by Farm Policy Facts, The Heritage Foundation believes that farmers and ranchers should consider accepting multiple off-farm jobs to protect their operation; “Agriculture has evolved so that off-farm income plays a critical role for farmers. … This is an excellent example of a private risk management tool that farmers frequently utilize. The financial health of agricultural producers demonstrates that they have means to build the costs of risk management into their business models.”
A strong Farm Bill means something entirely different to various groups of people, each as passionate about their stance as the other. Creating a bipartisan bill has proven to be challenging because of this. As debate kicks off soon on the House floor, expect many groups, and individuals, to voice their opinions on what the Farm Bill should look like.
Markie Hageman is a senior, majoring in agribusiness, at Fort Hays State University. She is actively involved in her state Cattlemen’s Association, Young Farmers chapter, and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. Follow her seriesexploring various parts of the next Farm Bill.