With so much dissention in the ranks over the 2012 farm bill, and most of not over farm policies at all, there’s been some call to break up the farm bill into several different bills, and move some of the legislation into other agencies. Former Ag Secretary John Block saw this as a bad idea when we spoke last week at the National Association of Farm Broadcasters annual convention in Kansas City:
“We call it the Farm Bill, but its also a bill for nutrition, food stamps, school lunch program, forestry, etc. One of the strengths of the Department of Ag is that we have this kind of broad responsibility. If you take the farm side out and let the others to go another department, it would weaken us immensely, because that amounts to more than 70% of the budget. We cant afford to give up that much if we want to keep the department as relevant as it has been and in the President’s Cabinet.
A case could be made that the food and nutrition is somewhat abused, its just expanding so much, when you get 47 million people on food stamps you have to wonder if there really are that many that ought to be on food stamps. People start treating it as an entitlement. I know with the new farm bill we are going to see cuts in the spending on farm programs, direct payments are going to be done, there will probably just be a safety net done through insurance. There is a big fight on how much should be cut out of the food program.
I don’t think we will have a farm bill by the end of the year. This lame duck session has so many problems with the fiscal cliff and other things, I don’t see how they are going to have time for the farm bill. We could end up with a one year extension. Or they might wait until February to write a new farm bill and then make it retro active. We will get one eventually.
I just hope that the congress and the President can sit down and solve some problems. I think the debt is our greatest problem right now and its not sustainable to live with it jumping up that quickly. I don’t think the way to solve it is to tax everyone. I think we need to cut our spending.”
Former ag secretary under president Ronald Reagan, John Block in Kansas City