When Congress passed the 2014 Farm Bill – after nearly three years of debate and 40 hearings – it effectively entered into a contract with America’s farmers and ranchers.
Lawmakers promised a common-sense safety net to aid producers in tough times, and in return, taxpayer expense was reduced and Americans continued to enjoy the world’s most affordable, abundant and safe food supply.
Now, some farm policy critics are aggressively lobbying to reopen the farm bill just months after it was completed and before it has even been fully implemented. The appropriations process is their preferred avenue for attack, including a Senate Appropriations Committee meeting scheduled today to write the agricultural funding bill.
Aside from the obvious jurisdictional problem of authorizing on an appropriations package, amendments designed to pry open the farm bill would carry severe economic consequences for the U.S. agricultural industry and the small businesses it supports.
Lawmakers should oppose any effort to undermine the farm safety net for any crop during the appropriations process.
Congress has already held this debate, and rural Americans have made long-term business decisions based on the bill approved in 2014. To introduce uncertainty into the marketplace so soon thereafter would simply be irresponsible.
And, when the time comes to reexamine the farm bill, the Agriculture Committees should lead the charge.