Maybe I should subtitle this column "Forever With the Farm Bill." Five minutes just won't cut it for something so complicated and cumbersome that it seems to always be a bone of contention. It's supposed to be a five year plan but just as soon as we get past the six or seven years it takes to put it together, we're off and running on the next 'plan.'
Do you remember the old Soviet Union and the monotonous, repetitive five year plans which were supposed to generate great leaps forward? That kind of massive central planning could never work, of course. There were just too many variables. The results were always the same – great fanfare followed by an embarrassing stumble backwards. And another five year plan was soon re-issued.
After way too many false starts, Corporate USSR soon declared the international equivalent of a Chapter 11 and sold most of its assets in an attempt to pay off its creditors. Those five year plans were so complicated and relied on to many 'fingers to the wind' best guesses that failure was about the only guaranteed outcome.
And now we come to the Farm Bill, which is a terrible misnomer since 'farm' is only a small part of it. It's a conglomerate of everything remotely associated with food, an illegitimate mind meld of a thing that guarantees only two things: (1) Interminable political wrangling which usually results in the two major parties arming themselves and confusing each other with talk about their rights according to the first and second amendments. And (2) that insincere posturing is followed by the key players standing back-to-back, taking twenty paces, turning and firing on one another.
Fortunately, both sides are terrible shots – they're much more adept at verbal salvos – so no physical damage is done. Unfortunately, none of them are any better at central planning than the haphazard members of the old politburo so no real political advantages are gained, either.
Now we have our next best guess of a two years-past-due bill which is likely to produce even more controversy after the fact than it did during the ridiculously long, poorly wrangled affair that it took to create it.
Here is what USDA had to say about it:
"The Agricultural Act of 2014 is important legislation that provides authorization for services and programs that impact every American and millions of people around the world. The new Farm Bill builds on historic economic gains in rural America over the past five years, while achieving meaningful reform and billions of dollars in savings for the taxpayer.