Farm Bill Rally Flopped
Yesterday, the Farm Bill Now rally took place by the Capitol Reflecting Pool in a last ditch effort to bolster support for the passage of the 2012 farm bill. The Hill reports that the rally probably took place too late to rescue the bill. A look at the photo-evidence shows it was also too short on one key element — farmers.
Perhaps this is because farmers have experienced record profits this year, despite all the hype and dire predictions. Or yet again, maybe it’s because famers (and everyone else) can see that the farm bill is actually a food stamp bill, with 80% of spending going toward food stamps. Whatever the reason, the evidence was clear at the rally. Many farmers appear unconcerned about the passage of this bill.
Although lobbyists are content to spend millions on their lobbying efforts, some are displeased with the lack of grassroots pressure agitating for the passage of the bill. Members of Congress, including Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN), the ranking Democrat on the House Agricultural Committee, doubt that the bill will be passed before the lawmakers leave town to campaign without this vital grassroots support.
“There is no good reason why we didn’t bring this farm bill to the floor,” Minnesota Rep. Collin Peterson told the crowd. But as the ranking Democrat on the Ag panel and a veteran of many farm bill fights, Peterson also stung many by gruffly warning that the agriculture movement must exert more grassroots pressure if it is to have real success in Washington.
“The groundswell is not out there. It is not happening at the grassroots level,” Peterson said. “This rally is a good starting point but …to change this we need 100 or 200 calls from people in their districts to these members (of Congress).”
The fact is that the Members simply have not received the amount of phone calls proponents of the bill are calling for. In many offices – we’re talking about conservatives in farming districts – there were only a handful of calls during the August recess and zero calls after the Farm Bill Now Rally.
But hey, even if the rally was a flop, there was still some entertaining swag, including bumper stickers.
Ironic is the first word that comes to mind. The farm bill, like its 2008 predecessor, funnels taxpayer money to corporate farms. Those special interests spent $173 million on lobbying efforts on the 2008 bill.
This bumper sticker falsely implies that farmers need to be heavily subsidized by taxpayers in order to be able to farm. They would have us believe that absent a government handout, no one in America would farm. Perhaps more to the point, prior to the existence of a comprehensive federal farm policy, our nation struggled with massive production surpluses.
When will these special interest agricultural lobbyists and their friends in Congress get this very clear message?