View from the Cab: Farm politics
In typical election year fashion, we heard threats of a possible government shutdown just ahead of the new federal fiscal year.
This shutdown never materialized thanks to a sweeping bipartisan vote in which the House passed a temporary government funding bill last Tuesday. The move keeps the federal government running into December, as the current budget year ends this week.
Under the final agreement, the Trump administration has the authority to release funding for farmers. Those in the farm states complained that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was interfering with the rural safety net farmers count on, in a world of low commodity prices and trade disputes.
Rep. K. Michael Conaway, ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee, expressed concern over a resolution from House Democrats which maintained funding for all of the U.S. government but would defund USDA’s ability to carry out Farm Bill programs or further COVID-19 economic relief.
“Under the Democrats’ plan, which fails to replenish USDA funds in a timely fashion, commodity, conservation and trade promotion payments required by the Farm Bill beginning in October cannot be paid,” Conaway said. “If House Democrats get their way, there will be no Price Loss Coverage, Agriculture Risk Coverage, Marketing Loan Assistance, sugar or dairy program benefits.”
Eventually, a Continuing Resolution was passed which includes the money for USDA to help farmers, ranchers, dairy producers and others in rural America.
“Thanks to President Trump and Republican leaders in Congress who also strongly opposed this reckless stunt, the Democrats finally modified their funding bill to include the Department of Agriculture,” Conaway added.
We can consider ourselves lucky the government is still operating and that funding will be available to farmers. Safety net programs are critical for farming operations all across the country. In a time when much of the world stands still due to a pandemic, farm country keeps going in order to provide a safe and abundant food supply for the world.
Agriculture unfortunately gets at the center of political battles sometimes. I think if funding was actually cut for ag, it would be a big wakeup call for everyone.