Mike's Blog

Insights from the President of ProAg

One Step Forward and Two Steps Back

by Mike Connealy on 08.02.2013

Thursday brought us news from Washington DC regarding the process of getting a Farm Bill to a conference committee and perhaps ultimately to President Obama for a signature.  This news is just ahead of the usual August recess when Congress leaves Washington and spends time back in their districts. 

Let’s not confuse “process” with “progress”.  The House of Representatives (Republicans only in the mix) are said to have produced a nutrition title which was missing from their “incomplete” Farm Bill effort from July of this year.  Details are sketchy, but the headline will read that this nutrition proposal will include $40 billion in spending cuts, or $4 billion a year.  My personal knowledge of the SNAP program is limited, so it is not for me to say whether this proposal has any redeeming value.  Since President Obama and the White House promised to veto the original House Ag Committee version of the Farm Bill due to specific executive branch opposition to the “excessive” $20 billion in SNAP cuts, this current expected proposal’s value is unlikely to see execution.  A reminder, the Senate passed Farm Bill included $4 billion in cuts or $400 million a year.

Growing up in rural Nebraska and attending a one room country school taught me some fundamental skills in bargaining. If a person offered to clean out the chicken house for $20 and was rejected as “too expensive”, you did not submit the next counter offer at $40. The House Republican leadership seems to be pushing “nonsense” to keep them living in “nowhere land”. 

On the same day as US House Republicans threw the $40 billion SNAP cut monkey wrench into the Farm Bill machinery, the US Senate moved one step forward and named their 12 conference committee members.  Joining Democrat Chairman Stabenow of Michigan are Harkin of Iowa, Leahy of Vermont, Baucus of Montana, Brown of Ohio, Klobuchar of Minnesota and Bennet of Colorado.  Ranking Republican Cochran of Mississippi announced that Roberts of Kansas, Chambliss of Georgia, Boozman of Arkansas and Hoeven of North Dakota would represent the minority in the event the US House decides to conference this important legislation.  In my opinion, this is an excellent group for supporting a strong crop insurance component in the eventual conference report. 

In closing, I am reminded of when The Desert Rose Band reached near the top of the country music charts in the late 1980’s with their hit song penned by lead singer Chris Hillman,  “One Step Forward“. We had this illustrated on Thursday:

One step forward and two steps back,
Nobody gets too far like that,
One step forward and two steps back, 
This kind of dance can never last.


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