Wake Up and Defend Agriculture

September 13, 2007

By: Congressman Marion Berry

Most Americans start their days the same way. Get out of bed, shower, put on clothes (most likely cotton), and head to the kitchen for a quick bite to eat before work or school.

You might pour a tall glass of milk and sprinkle a little sugar in your bowl of Rice Krispies, or Corn Flakes, or Wheaties.

Unfortunately, some in Congress are trying to pass legislation that threatens to disrupt our morning ritual.

An effort led by my colleagues Reps. Ron Kind (D-WI) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ) would gut the current farm policy—literally repealing the farm safety net under the disguise of “reform.”

I will give them credit. The Kind-Flake spin machine, run and funded by lobbyists and activists from the far right and far left, have waged an effective misinformation campaign.

They have convinced many in Congress who do not follow farm policy closely that their efforts are about reform. But when you take the time to read their bill, you will see it’s really about destruction.

If any Kind-Flake amendments pass when the ’07 farm bill goes to the House floor, farmers and ranchers in this country will be at risk of losing their livelihood. In fact, all farmers and ranchers—regardless of size—will seriously suffer under a Kind-Flake bill if current price forecasts hold up. Worse, according to one study, representative farmers and ranchers across the country will actually reach the point of financial ruin if there is even a modest drop in commodity prices should Kind-Flake become the law of the land.

For more information about the devastation that could ensue in rural America, read this analysis.

Of course, some Members from urban areas might think this doesn’t affect their constituents, but they are being naïve. Not everyone farms, but everyone eats.

If U.S. farmers are unable to make ends meet, then they will stop farming. Without U.S. farmers growing food and fiber, then we have to turn to foreign suppliers. And if you like imported oil, you’re going to love imported food.

With increased food imports comes increased food safety concerns. Headlines like the recent pet food and toothpaste recalls could become commonplace.

America has the safest, cheapest, most affordable food supply in the world thanks to a farm policy that has come in $25 billion under budget. Why would we eliminate the policies that made this success story possible?

I have been involved in writing the last 4 farm bills, and I will continue to use my first-hand knowledge and experience to help my colleagues understand the impact this bill will have on our nation’s producers and the safety and security of our nation.

Congress needs to wake up and support a strong farm policy in the upcoming farm bill debate. The country’s future depends on it.

About the Author: Marion Berry of Gillett represents Arkansas’ 1st Congressional District and is a member of the House Appropriations and Budget committees.