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View From the Hill: Don't take it for granted.

By Grace Boatright, National Grange Legislative Director (View From The Hill Blog 9/21/12)

  SEPTEMBER 21, 2012 --

To my disappointment, but certainly no surprise, there will not be a 2012 Farm Bill before September 30th. Congress left today to go campaigning and will not return before the November 6th elections. The provisions of the 2008 Farm Bill will be allowed to expire on the 30th, with no guarantee that they will be addressed during the lame duck session in November and December.

Although they do technically expire on the 30th, most of the commodity programs in the Farm Bill won’t actually expire until the end of the year because their authorization corresponds with the crop year that ends on December 31st. Direct payments to farmers will continue at $5 billion a year, and SNAP will continue through other programs.

It’s really no matter though, because the larger picture indicates to me that our legislators, like too many people in this country, take for granted that food can be found in the grocery store whenever they need it. They give little thought to what could happen if a true food crisis were to break out.

Americans in general, in my opinion, are far too spoiled when it comes to the basic necessities of life. People in the United States spend less than 10% of their income on food. That’s amazing considering that in other parts of the world, people have to spend 80% or more of their wages on food for their families. We take it for granted, but this country could look like 1940’s Poland in no time at all. People should really consider that.

As far as the Farm Bill goes, I heard the most excellent thing today while attending a gathering on the Hill. A nice farmer from Iowa was there to speak to the crowd and when asked how he felt about Congress not passing the Farm Bill, he gave the greatest response. He said, “Personally, I don’t care. I’m going to plant my crop next year no matter what. I’ve got people to feed.” I didn’t know whether to clap or cry, but that was probably the most American thing I’ve heard all week; that even when our government fails, we won’t.

Have a nice weekend everybody.

-Grace Boatright
National Grange Legislative Director

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