Eventually, amber waves of grain (en.wikipedia.org).
by Dan Burns
Mar 27, 2023, 9:00 AM

A new Farm Bill is being written

A few of the things that I’d personally love to see in the new federal Farm Bill are:

Much more CSP and EQIP, especially as corn for ethanol fuel is (rapidly) phased out. (To be clear, there’s no indication of the latter happening.)

– Higher eligibility for SNAP, along with higher payments for recipients. It’s disgraceful that anyone is still going hungry in this country.

– A general de-emphasis on Big Ag style farming, with all of its chemicals and its push for maximum production at any cost (to everyone but themselves, that is).

I know. Me and my silly fantasies! Because there’s unlikely to be much of anything that’s legitimately new, much less improved, in this bill.

This is from a thorough yet not very long “primer” on what this is all about:

“Instead, the previous farm bill was intentionally written to help the wealthiest farmers—even relatives with no direct connection to the land—receive unlimited subsidies from taxpayers,” (Grassley) said, referencing a rule that was expanded in 2018 that allows more family members to claim they are “actively engaged” in farming, allowing multiple payments to single farms.

But Grassley is an outlier on the issue, and despite the rhetoric, for many reasons—including the power of the agricultural lobby—commodity programs are unlikely to change much. Crop insurance, on the other hand, is getting more attention than ever, and there is more momentum in D.C. toward change. After the last farm bill cycle, crop insurance surpassed commodity payments in spending for the first time.
(Civil Eats)

Not a misprint. That really is Sen. Charles “Chuck” Grassley (R-Iowa). His very un-Republican behavior on this is probably not shared by enough Senators (in both parties) to substantially change anything, though.

This effectively encapsulates what a big part of the problem is:

I’ve witnessed the ag propaganda machine from within and without for quite a while now and have often wondered how their absurdities could matter. But matter they do as we hear politicians from both parties and farmers across the spectrum barf them out regularly. I’ve also come to believe that this stuff has become a drug to many in agriculture, used and abused to self-medicate and relieve the guilt some must have for turning much of the state into an environmental wasteland.
(Chris Jones/University of Iowa)

Federal ag policy in this country probably won’t change much without a big upgrade, intellectual and ethical, in the overall makeup of our governing entities. Especially the United States Senate. Which is going to continue to be arduous and tortuous,when it comes to making it happen, though there are grounds for being positive in the longer run. In the meantime, celebrate the wins that do come, and keep pushing. What else can we do?

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