Editor's note: The following commentary was written by Jessica Domel, field editor for the Texas Farm Bureau Federation.
If you like food, you should support the farm bill.
The Senate voted for a new farm bill on Monday and action now shifts to the House. I’ve been keeping up with the farm bill’s progress in Washington, D.C., and I found myself asking others on our staff, “What does this mean for the typical American consumer?”
I have some answers for you.
The irony of the farm bill is that only about 20 percent of its funding is for farm-related programs. But that 20 percent is vital to American farmers. Without the funding provided through federally subsidized crop insurance, many farmers would probably have to leave the business.
Why do farmers need crop insurance? One word–risk.
What other business puts a seed in the ground and waits three to five months for a return. That farmer has seed costs, fertilizer costs, possibly pesticide costs if he has weed or bug problems, and some farmers have irrigation costs. And every crop can be challenged by Mother Nature in the form of drought, hail and floods. All of his investment can be wiped out in a minute.
But the farm bill is about more than farmers. It’s about food.
By helping with crop insurance, we ensure American farmers and ranchers stay in business so we don’t have to import foods from other countries–countries that may not have the strict food standards that we have in place.
We ensure that those in need have access to food as well through food assistance programs.
In this country, we decided long ago that we want children in our schools to be adequately fed and prepared to learn every day. The school lunch program is in the farm bill. The food stamp program is in the farm bill. The Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program is in the farm bill. These programs assist people who, for one reason or another, need help to provide food for their families.
The farm bill is also a jobs bill. Did you know 16 million American jobs are dependent upon agriculture? Those aren’t just people driving tractors and picking fruits and vegetables. Those are people driving trucks, stocking shelves, waiting tables and serving food. Those jobs are dependent upon the stability of U.S. agriculture, which is dependent upon this bill.
So why should we be for the farm bill? Because we like food. We like American farmers. We like having a safe, abundant food supply that is more affordable than any other country in the world.
So if you haven’t already, tell your representative in Washington, D.C. to vote yes for the farm bill.
Need help finding your legislator? The CapWiz Legislative Action Center can point you in the right direction.