What is in this article?:
- Cuts to agriculture in the 2012 farm bill: Is it back to square one?
- $23 billion may be floor for cuts
- Communication, collaboration, cooperation
When the “Super Committee” on debt reduction failed to come up with its assigned task of developing at least $1.2 trillion in federal spending cuts, says American Farm Bureau Federation Deputy Executive Director of Public Policy Dale Moore, “the question then became what would happen to the proposed $23 billion in cuts that the leadership of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees had put on the table to try and protect the baseline budget for agriculture and serve as a starting point for the discussions of the new farm bill. More important to some was the question: Can we get back to square one and start the process over?"
Communication, collaboration, cooperation
There are a lot of aspects of crop insurance that haven’t worked as well in the South as in other parts of the country, or as well as the marketing loan has worked in some commodities, Moore says “ and while these may be fiddled with, I think they going to remain relatively unchanged as we go through this discussion.”
Rep. Collin Peterson of Minnesota, the ranking Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee, got provisions into the Super Committee’s deliberations that would lay the groundwork for the dairy section of the farm bill, Moore says.
“In my years in Washington, pulling together a dairy proposal has involved a lot of challenges because of the differences among the dairy sectors around the country. Now, as we go back to regular order, it’s going to be interesting to see how various regions of the country look at Mr. Peterson’s proposal in terms of how the dairy title will work for them.”
Among other issues of interest to agriculture, Moore says, will be taxes and financial reform.
“Taxes were part of the last farm bill, because that’s how it was paid for. My big, big hope is that the ag committees find ways to make the numbers work for the next farm bill without having to go the tax committees.“I really doubt, because of the Dodd-Frank Act, that financial reform will be overlooked. The House committee chairman has had multiple hearings over the past year focusing on this particular topic. I would be surprised if there isn’t something in the farm bill to try and get a handle on the whole Dodd-Frank reform, how it affects agriculture, and how commodities are traded in Chicago.”
Moore noted that his former boss, Rep. Pat Roberts of Kansas, “was fond of saying that though we get frustrated with the taxes we have to pay, we should be thankful we’re not getting all the government we’re paying for.
“We often hear people say it would be nice if we could just get the federal government to be more businesslike — but if you go back and read Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and others of our founding fathers, they wanted to form a government that would be noisy, messy, and one in which people could be participants and make their opinions known.”
Communication, collaboration, and cooperation are “the fertilizer and water that keep the seed of public policy growing,” Moore says.
“Leadership, such as that provided by Farm Bureau and other organizations at the community, state, and Washington levels, builds the strength that protects the crop. Then, we have to watch the horizon and be mindful of the intersections with other issues and interests, especially those who would try and knock us off the road. This [new farm bill] is going to be a long process, and patience is a valuable commodity in working toward and achieving our goals.
“But in all of this, don’t be bashful about communicating your thoughts to us and giving us your input and ideas.”
Moore noted that Chuck Connor, former deputy secretary of agriculture and special assistant on agriculture for President Bush, made the point that “the thing that’s most important in budget discussions and farm bill development is for the commodity and farm groups work together in trying to reach common ground.
“And I can tell you, one thing that will cause us to lose ground on the things we’re trying to protect is the ability of the reformers — whether they’re on the budget side of the equation or the policy side — to split agriculture, or wait until we’re so busy fighting each other that they can come in on the other side with something we don’t want.”