You've likely heard by now that the House Farm Bill did not pass last week. As the agricultural community continues to sit in a state of uncertainty, it begs the larger question of why the passage of this bill has been so difficult. At one time, issues surrounding our nation's food security were central discussions. It certainly can be argued that the food security our nation realizes has given us a tremendous advantage. Many people in our country have food sources readily available to them, allowing people to focus on other tasks and innovations.
With few senators and representatives from rural communities, it's important that the agricultural community keep in front of our elected officials. Often the representatives that need reached aren't in rural districts, but other areas. As an agriculture community, we need to figure out how to be more effective in reaching the urban legislators to help them understand how important things that happen "down on the farm" are to their constituents.
We might long for the common sense approach of President Dwight D. Eisenhower who said, "Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil, and you're a thousand miles from the corn field."
One of the best things that we as agriculture people can do is educate ourselves on what makes up the Farm Bill legislation. It would also be helpful for each of us to take time to recall the progression of farm policy, why many of these objectives were put in place, and how they fit today.
Here are some good basic facts to be aware of so you might better communicate why it's so important to pass farm legislation.
How are the Farm Bill funds spent?
78% Nutrition Programs
7% Commodity Programs
8% Crop Insurance
Traditional farm supports accounts for less than one quarter of 1% of the federal budget.
On average, Americans spend around 10% of their income on food. In most other countries, people generally spend somewhere between 18-25% of their income on food.
What are the most important parts of the Farm Bill to your farm? Why are they important? How can you express that importance to others who might not have the same background as you?