Listening to five minutes worth of federal chatter is like buying five dollars worth of gas. You don’t get much for your money. No big bang for the buck. This year’s never ending version of a do-nothing Congress seems hell-bent on sitting this one out. Do nothing until the election is over and then finger-to-the-wind to test which way it blows is the current order of the day in Washington.
So that farm bill is sitting out there in the endless void defined by the Beltway, waiting for something to happen. Actually there are two versions, one written by those damn liberals in the Senate and another by those damn conservatives in the House. If you’ve been living in America and paying attention to all the papers, you understand that those two groups share the respect shown by the Yankees to the Red Sox. They get along with all the politeness shown to Redskins fans by Cowboys fans. You can feel the same warmth that flows around a Michigan vs. Ohio State late November bar room brawl in the big house in Ann Arbor.
Of course we know that the farm bill isn’t really a just a farm bill. It goes well beyond agricultural America in its scope and the biggest part of it goes to programs like SNAP. It is a financial bonanza. With the exception of things like defense and health, it’s one of the largest piggy banks doled out by our friends in government, so you know almost every conceivable lobby is hustling 24/7.
So let’s spend a few minutes listening to what some of the key players are saying.
Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack said this on Monday: “There is nothing more important to rural America and nothing more important to producers, farmers and ranchers in this country than action on this bill. There’s no greater need for this help and assistance than now, and there’s no excuse or reason why the House of Representatives cannot take this matter up.’’
Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) in a letter cosigned by 78 other lawmakers: “Congress has an obligation to move swiftly to reauthorize the programs that feed American families. In the midst of a severe drought and with expiration dates on a number of farm-related programs barreling toward us, inaction carries potentially devastating consequences for many farmers, producers and American families. The 2012 Farm Bill isn’t perfect yet, but let’s debate it before the August recess and get a good bill to the President as quickly as possible.”