Commentary: Our politicians have failed us

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On Wednesday, hundreds of farmers and ag industry representatives assembled on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., to encourage passage of a new Farm Bill. Read “Frustration high at farm bill rally.”

What does it say? What does it say when a rally has to be held in order to remind Congress to get things done?

The current Farm Bill expires on Sept. 30. Yet, it appears that a new Farm Bill will have to wait until after the Nov. 6 election. The delay creates uncertainty for farmers who have had to deal with drought, high feed costs and other critical issues this year. Dairy farmers, in particular, need policy reforms that have been passed by the U.S. Senate and House Agriculture Committee, but blocked from floor discussion in the House.

If there is something that Congress does well, it is punt or “kick the can down the road.”

After all, Congress is made up of politicians, and politicians don’t want to do any anything that will jeopardize their re-election chances. Forget what’s best for the country, the politicians’ re-election is what matters most.

I have mentioned to my wife on several occasions that we should just vote out everyone in Congress and start over ― “drain the swamp,” so to speak. That would send a message to Congress that the people’s business comes first, not individual re-election bids.

Then, I start thinking, “Well, my congressman isn’t so bad. Maybe he should stay….”

Yet, my congressman made his own “waves” recently when it came out that he had gone skinny-dipping among congressional colleagues while on a fact-finding trip in Israel.  

Those are the kinds of things ― skinny-dipping and stupid remarks ― that always get the most attention. I wish the news media would focus on the things that really count. 

I was appalled during the Republican National Convention and the Democratic National Convention that no one offered specific proposals for addressing high unemployment or the $16 trillion national debt. Instead, the emphasis was on style points ― who “connected” with his audience or who showed his “human side.”

A bunch of crap!

Instead of which politician is the biggest “rock star” (and, yes, this includes you, Bill Clinton), we need people who will find solutions and get things done.

In agriculture, there are some dedicated politicians, notably Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), Rep. Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) and Rep. Kristi Noem ((R-S.D), who have tried to get a new Farm Bill passed. Unfortunately, there are others who are afraid of tackling the tough issues and alienating certain voting blocs ahead of November’s election.

Drain the swamp? That is probably too harsh. But politicians do need to be put on notice that they serve the people ― not the other way around.





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Dave Juday    
Virginia  |  September, 14, 2012 at 10:17 AM

"What does it say when a rally has to be held in order to remind Congress to get things done?" Seriously? That is as deep as your thinking goes? That is Democracy. What does it say that the Tea Party has spontaneous rallies over and over to get the Senate to pass a budget - which they haven't done in 3 years. The Senate did pass a farm bill - just not the budget to account for it What does it say that every January for more than 20 years people rally for the right to life of the unborn? Right to Life, Tea Party, out of Nicaraguga, end Viet Nam, welcome home soldiers and veterans, animal rights, Occupy Wall Street, etc etc, Rallys - left and right; meaningful and silly - say that we are in a Democracy and that's the way things get done. Seriously, how can you write that no one in Congress is serious about trying to pay down the debt, and then complain that the House is holding up the farm bill?!? That is SOOOOO disingenuous. You know the House is holding up the farm bill to cut more spending from it because the debt is $16 trillion. Farm income is at a record - again - and farmers are above the average American income, and the Senate wants to spending about $1 trillion on a new farm bill which guarantees 89 percent of that record income. Congress would be not doing their job if they let this slip through without a full fight, full vetting, and yes - some noisy, messy, empassioned - participatory Democracy. You want to take away more of my tax dollars to subsidize your income? You better have enough like minded friends to hold a rally

Tim S    
Wisconsin  |  September, 14, 2012 at 09:40 PM

The House may be holding up the farm bill, and it is because it is an election year, NOT because they want to cut the spending. If there were not election this year, I guarantee more action would have been taken on this bill. The timing of the bill should change so that it expires in a non-election year. The spending on the farm portion of the "Farm and Food Bill" amounts to such a minute part of the overall budget that to have the Congress haggling over it is absurd. Trimming the spending on this bill will not significantly affect the debt because the amount is small. Unfortunately, this issue has been in the news more than it deserves to be. How about talking about food stamps and the abuse that goes along with that federal allotment? I have heard very little about any reforms to be made with this. Yes, monies paid out under this bill need to be trimmed for those producers making over a certain amount of money each year, but don't just talk about farm spending. Address all areas of this bill!! And why is it bad that farm income is at a record?? Hmm?? How many years did farms have to struggle to provide food and fend for themselves? Anyone who knows farming knows that this record income will not last and when it decreases, Congress will be scrambling to help the plight of the struggling farmers.

MN  |  September, 14, 2012 at 12:16 PM

I'm a dairy farmer, and I believe this farm bill needs to not only be held hostage, but killed! Stop reading what somebody else says the bill says and read it for yourself. More of the same that has failed for the last seventy years.

Jasper, N Y  |  September, 14, 2012 at 12:26 PM

I think it is wonderful that Dave can speak hie piece with a full belly and without the ramifications of big brother surpressing him. The one movement that the farm community has not tried yet is to put a price on their production which will cover the cost of production , plus a profit . We don't have to go to a defunct Congress to get permission to do that . That right was given to us in February of 1922 , in the form of the Capper-Volsted Act . Any farm leader ,with half a brain , could organize production under this law ; if farmers were not so worried about their neighbor might get paid adaquately too . The incompetance of Congress in not the biggest problem . Eisenhower told us what the problem was to be and he was right . We have a Congress which is the best that money can buy , and they have surely been boughten . The sad thing is that many of the citizens think that this is all right . Dave-- The real purpose of a farm bill is to see to it that food remains relatively inexpensive and the the processors and food manufacturesare profitable . usually the opening line in any farm legislation starts out---In order to maintain a cheap and plentiful food supply ---; there is never any mention of --- in order to provide an adaquate income for the producers of food ---. You need to get the fact straight as to who the real benificeraies of the farm bill are . It is not a simple process but I am sure you could do it , if you would .

ct  |  September, 14, 2012 at 05:16 PM

I have to agree with cat that it is time to let the farm bill run out

ct  |  September, 14, 2012 at 05:18 PM

I have to agree with Cat that it is time that we let the farm bill run out and not keep debating about it

pa  |  September, 14, 2012 at 09:57 PM

Some farmers are achieving high income - some are achieving devastating losses (drought stricken and dairy sector), so let us not make assumptions about farm income and profitability. We have had horrible equity loss this year with milk at good historical prices but no where near cost of production (soymeal reaching well over $600/ton! not to mention cost of diesel fuel) - this is not sustainable. Farmers need to cover cost of production. C - I attended a D.C. hearing on dairy policy several YEARS ago when milk prices were in the tank and over 300 dairy farmers from midatlantic states arrived to listen to "industry" people testify. 3 years later - nothing has changed. We can't rely on Congress to fix failed dairy policy. One easy improvement would be to require daily price reporting. All other commodities participate in this. This has been mentioned repeatedly, but no funding has been allocated to see it through. Farm Bill policies of the past are not what we should be considering today. What would happen if what Cat suggests takes place? I think not much impact for farmers. What we need in the farm bill is this: 1. Separate food and nutrition programs out of the bill - make it a separate program with vouchers for certain foods (eggs, bread, milk, cereal, produce at grocery stores, local vendors and food banks. I see too many people wth food stamps / cards running into convenience stores to buy their deli sandwiches, chips and ice tea drinks then whip out cash for cigs and beer and they are obese! This needs to change! This should never be part of farm bill policy. To Be Cont'd...

pa  |  September, 14, 2012 at 10:06 PM

2. Require daily price reporting and determine a way to remove speculator influence from market trading to reduce volatility in commodities. 3. Provide disaster relief for producers who are victims of droughts, hurricanes, wildfires and other natural or man-made disasters. 4. Replace crop subsidy programs for conservation funding to assist farms in complying with regulatory requirements. 5. Encourage and support research & development,

Joe Dairyman    
USA  |  September, 14, 2012 at 10:44 PM

Dave you forgot something. 80% of the farm bill is food stamps. I hope your the first person to go hungry.

M  |  September, 15, 2012 at 05:00 AM

I am not sure what your modus operundi is, but we milk 100 cows and have been in the same footprint for the last thirty years. Guess we are in that non progressive bunch...This bill will not do a thing for us, but help to "insure" us the same low prices that have pushed us to the brink of bankruptcy for the last 5 years with each year becoming more tenuous. To have to buy insurance to protect a paltry milk price from those who produce more than their share ****s. Somehow I don't feel blessed with record income.

Colorado  |  September, 15, 2012 at 09:00 AM

The majority of the dairymen are against this latest and greatest Farm Plan for the Future because it is full of Marxism and Communism--it will be the destruction of economic freedom all in the name of so called economic security. In the end we will have neither if we continue to go down this road. The answer is simple make the government much much smaller. After my father returned from world war II, he tried government jobs and he could not deal with the fact that there were about 5 times more employees than there was work to do, so he went back to do what he did while growing up--milking cows When I graduated from college one of my colleagues gave me some advice--he said go to work for the government--you will make just as much money than you will make in private business but you will only do one-fourth as much work. Therein lies the problem--even if those who work for the government are doing work that is worthwhile--which is becoming less true all the time they are no where near as productive as those in private industry. Someone from the old Soviet Union said it best when he said we workers pretended to work and our communist party bosses pretended to pay us. History has proven not just once but every time that centralized planning and control never ever works. Unfortunately the Harvard educated types back in Washington DC think they are smarter than their counterparts in from the past. They are not and never will be. The sooner that the majority of we Americans including dairy farmers who are standing solidly in common sense and still have their minds in reality instead of la la land stand up and fight for the truth as it is, has been, and always will be the better off we will be.

Dave Juday    
September, 21, 2012 at 04:32 PM

I didn't forget that most of the farm bill is food stamps. Do you think that the editorial above was mostly concerned about food stamps? Do you think there would even be a farm bill if there were not food stamps included? Food stamps were added to the farm bill in 1977 to garner enough votes to pass the farm bill. now we have a chairman of the Senate ag committee who has 56,000 farmers in her state and 1.9 mln food stamp recipients. We also have House Ag Cmte members with no farms in their district - McGovern of MASS and Fudge or Cleveland OHIO Courtney of CONN all there to save food stamps. Are you worrid about not getting a new food stamp bill through? There was an amendment in the Senate farm bill to take food stamps out of the farm bill - it lost. Farm state Senators want food stamps in the farm bill

Dave Juday    
September, 21, 2012 at 04:42 PM

Thanks Jasper. I agree. Freedom of speech and prosperity are at the heart of democracy. That was kind of my point. By the way, if the farm bill were to keep food cheap, it would get rid of CRP which idles 32 mln acres, it would repeal the mandate for corn ethanol which puts 40 pct of all corn into fuel, repeal the mandate for 1.28 billion gallons of biodiesel which is equivalent to more than one-third of the total US veg oil supply. And if the other point of the farm bill is to make sure food manufacturers are profitable, please explain the diversion of food into fuel and please also explain the miniumum prices that dairy processors/manufacturers must pay for milk. I know who the beneficiairs of the farm bill are - they include non-profit environmental groups who get grants, they include banks who have farm payments as collateral, they include realtors who list farms whose price is inflated because of farm program payments, and they include lobbyists for farm groups who get $200-$700 per hour to push for a farm bill every 4 years, and they include commodity magainze editors who get easy targets for over the top editorials

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