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Karl's Column - Changing, But Still the Same

by Carolyn Binder

 Among the matters that remain the same lies in a newsline from a day in November.  It reads, “Ag leaders will talk today”.  A couple of lines later, another of those matters that remains the same, is described as “Unable to reach any agreement.”  These data are taken from reports compiled and distributed by the National Association of Farm Broadcasting, but of course it’s commonly available to anyone interested.  The November 22nd report was headed “No Agreement on the Farm Bill” and reported that the day before, the chairmen and ranking members of the House and Senate Ag Committee had met for more than a hour that morning, and again for less than half an hour that afternoon, before deciding there was no point in trying to continue.

A sidebar observation on those sessions contends those four people were ”Close to a comprehensive agreement on a number of issues before the negotiations broke down.”  I am not

 the least bit encouraged by that near miss.  That farm bill is a huge package of many, many parts, all of which have to find favor with not only the House-Senate Conference Committee, but ultimately with a majority of the House and Senate each - - and then win a presidential signature.

There is, within that huge package of many parts, the matter of what we used to call Food Stamps, now it’s the SNAP, which is Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.  The Senate version has cut some funds from SNAP; the House version calls for many billions more in cuts, and then there are those who want to take SNAP out of the Farm Bill entirely, drafting legislation to support it on its own two legs, so to speak. I’m pretty sure that 50 or so strategically placed statesmen could wrap this thing up - - probably wouldn’t have let it come to this series of stone walls to begin with.  But we didn’t have 50 or so statemen - - and we still don’t.  And the politicians we do have, which is all we have until some statesmen show up, haven’t been able to do much of anything, except block the moves undertaken by the other political party, or the other house of the legislature.

Please don’t shrug and say you are not involved in agriculture, so this dilemma is of little concern.  There’s a sage observation circulating amongst us folks.  It reminds everyone, “If You Eat, You’re Involved in Agriculture!”

So - - the Farm Bill, scheuled for renewal more than a year ago, is bumping up against another critical deadline.  Also, Congress left town for the Thanksgiving holiday without a deal to avoid another government shutdown for lack of a new budget.