On Sept. 30, 2012 the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008, also known as the Farm Bill, was left to expire under the indecisive eyes of Congress.
As the son of dairy farmers, I consider this action an insult to the agriculturists who work tirelessly 24 hours a day, seven days a week to provide this nation with its most basic necessities. I’m also frustrated by the fact that this great failure on the part of Congress was overshadowed and eclipsed in the media by what I deem one of the most exhausting and boring presidential campaigns since William Jennings Bryan ran against William Howard Taft in 1908.
Now many of you may be wondering, “Hey Jared, the fact that America’s farmers have been left to dry out on the fence is terrible and all. But I have no ties to agriculture, so why should I care?” Well, let me enlighten you. As a human being you need food to live and you also need money to buy that food.
The Farm Bill provides subsidies to agricultural producers so that they can make a living. In turn, these subsidies make America’s agricultural goods competitive on the world market. So in short, no Farm Bill means higher food prices for everyone.
And I’m not just talking about the vegetables that you buy at the Dane County Farmer’s Market on Saturday morning. I am talking about everything that you will be putting in your mouth, from milk you will putting on your corn-based morning cereal to beverages you may or may not imbibe late at night, which may or may not be distilled from the finest hops, barley and wheat.
The Farm Bill also supports progress in the areas of energy, conservation, nutrition and rural development. So beyond those of us who eat and drink, anyone who is interested in renewable energy sources, saving trees, leading a healthy lifestyle or fixing up rural infrastructure has a something at stake in this piece of legislation.
Congress failed to pass the Farm Bill for the same reason it has failed on so many other fronts — super partisan legislators were unwilling to compromise on anything. A version of the Farm Bill was passed by the Senate in June. However, it failed to meet the standards of House Republicans.
The House Republicans were angered over the amount of money that was being put into food stamps. Nothing says “we want to get America off of food stamps” more than refusing to pass a bill which keeps the price of food down and financially supports the 22 million Americans with jobs in agriculture.
However, according to the Hill, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio says that the House will deal with the Farm Bill in the lame duck session of Congress. And as we all know, a president usually does his best work when he has just been fired from his job, but can stick around long enough to be a thorn in everyone’s side and not care about the consequences of his actions.
As I say this, I’m reminded of a Seinfeld episode in which George Castanza is trying to get fired from the Yankees by dragging the Commissioner’s Trophy behind his car in the Yankee stadium parking lot, yelling through a megaphone, “I fear no reprisal!”
The Farm Bill is essential for agricultural production in America. If this bill isn’t passed swiftly and efficiently, food prices will continue to rise at an astonishing rate. You will have to pay more for your food or eat things that are more filling — I think that both those statements will be true. So unless more than 90% of your diet consists of Taco Bell burritos, you will be paying more.
America was built on a foundation of agriculture, and as long as every single product and consumer good continues to have its roots in the ground, we need to lend a helping hand to the people responsible for producing these goods.
Jared Mehre ([email protected]) is a sophomore majoring in political science and sociology with a certificate in criminal justice.