Now I think John Thune and Mike Rounds are just hazing the rookie, Dusty Johnson.
Back in April, U.S. House candidate Dusty Johnson predicted that this year’s Congress would fail to pass a Farm Bill. After winning election, Congressman-Elect Johnson said the first big thing he wanted to work on in Washington was the still-stalled Farm Bill.
Of course, like the celebration of big government grants for road construction in South Dakota, Senator Rounds’s press release on this late vote (Farm Bill should have been in place October 1, providing farmers certainty and support from the beginning of the federal fiscal year) is a hilarious celebration of even bigger government. Every plank Rounds highlights is a liberal expansion of government effort to intervene in the free market:
The farm bill includes a number of priorities Rounds has pushed for in farm bill negotiations:
- Strengthens safety net programs such as crop insurance;
- Allows for re-enrollment for producers utilizing commodity programs under Title I, specifically Price-Loss Coverage (PLC) and Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC);
- Increases the cap for Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acres from 24 million acres to 27 million acres, with 2 million acres reserved for grasslands;
- Establishes an Animal Disease and Preparedness Program, which includes a vaccination bank to combat economic, food and national security concerns;
- Increases the total Farm Service Agency (FSA) Guaranteed Loan Program’s individual cap on Ownership and Operating Loans from $1.399 million to $1.75 million. Rounds called for an increase to these individual loan caps in the FSA Loan Guarantee Enhancement Act that he introduced;
- Establishes a Rural Health Liaison position to work in coordination with the Department of Health and Human Services to improve rural health care delivery. This measure is based on legislation Rounds sponsored [Senator M. Michael Rounds, press release, 2018.12.11].
…Congress is set to pass an $867 billion farm/food stamp bill with virtually no smaller-government reforms, and the president will probably sign it. The 800-page bill is backed by an 800-pound lobbying gorilla with two muscular arms—the farm lobby and the anti-poverty lobby.
Where does an 800-pound gorilla sit? Wherever it wants to, including on American taxpayers.
I said the bill is “appalling.” Heritage says it is a “nightmare.” NTU says it will “expand welfare to the wealthy.” R Street and AFP say it is “a huge jumble of subsidies” [Chris Edwards, “Farm Bill: 800 Pages from an 800-Pound Gorilla“, Cato Institute, 2018.12.11].
Among the meager nays was welfare-farmer and Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, who agrees with Cato that the Farm Bill should have done something to reduce the number of rich farmers receiving farm subsidies:
…Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley… says the top 10 percent of farmers will receive more than 70 percent of the farm subsidies.
“To say I’m disappointed the bill makes more subsidies available to the wealthiest farmers and many non-farmers is a severe understatement,” Grassley said on the Senate floor.
“Today we have a farm bill that is intentionally written to have the largest farmers received unlimited subsidies from the federal government. There is no other way to characterize what the conference committee has done.”
Grassley said part of why he voted “No” on the 2018 Farm Bill is because it does not set limits on subsidies that he has sought for several years. Grassley is one of two farmers in Senate, but he voted against the 2018 Farm Bill in part because it makes more distant relatives of farmers, such as cousins, nieces and nephews, eligible to share in federal subsidies [Dan Flynn, “$867 Billion Farm Bill Now Moving Quickly Through Lame-Duck Congress,” Food Safety News, 2018.12.12].
Farm Bill 2018 moved because lawmakers struck the work requirements that Trump and election-lamed House Republicans had pushed for. Farm Bill 2018 is a win for Democrats, a win for hungry low-income Americans, and a win for farmers big and small, who get some much needed certainty in the fact of the ongoing Trump tariffs:
The deal is a win for Democrats, who unanimously opposed the House plan to impose stricter work requirements on millions of participants in SNAP, formerly known as food stamps. SNAP helps nearly 40 million low-income Americans buy groceries and accounts for more than 75 percent of the farm bill’s total price tag.
…Trump has repeatedly said he wanted the farm bill to include stricter SNAP work rules, but lawmakers told reporters the president is expected to sign the final deal even though it lacks those provisions. Republicans and Democrats are betting Trump will choose to give farmers certainty by locking in farm and nutrition policy over the next five years. Producers have been struggling with low commodity prices, which have worsened as a result of retaliatory tariffs precipitated by Trump’s trade agenda [Catherina Boudreau and Helena Bottemiller Evich, “Farm Bill Compromise Primed for Passage,” Politico, 2018.12.11].
Farm Bill 2018 does bring us hemp, which word appears in the 807-page document 114 times. The bill lets states and tribes apply to USDA to allow hemp cultivation for any use (with a plan, of course, to measure THC levels and watch for sneaky growers of smokin’-weed) and directs the Secretary of Agriculture to “determine the economic viability of the domestic production and sale of industrial hemp” by supporting pilot programs and research and to submit to Congress a report on this study within twelve months of enactment of the bill. For the hempification of America, thank Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who signed the Farm Bill conference report with a pen made from Kentucky hemp:
Making it official with my hemp pen!🖋️ Proud to have served as conferee on #FarmBill & to fight for #Kentucky priorities. With today’s signature, my provision to legalize industrial #hemp is 1 step closer to reality. Looking forward to voting YES on this bill & sending to @POTUS pic.twitter.com/8ypwBebXy7
— Leader McConnell (@senatemajldr) December 10, 2018
Legalized hemp? On top of all those liberal, big-government handouts? And no follow-through on those get=tough work requirements? Jeepers, maybe our pretend-Republican Senators are hazing all of us, not just Dusty.