Farm bill was a mega-bill
The House of Representatives and House Republican leadership recently took a bold step to separate the farm bill into farm policy and feeding programs (food stamps). [“Budget plans imploding, Congress is heading home,” News, Aug. 2.]
When asked for a reaction to the split, the most common answer in my farm community is “it’s about time.”
We have allowed Congress to fall into a pattern of mega-bills too large for anyone but full-time lobbyists to read and understand. Focusing on issues separately allows for more transparency, better debate and less opportunity for brokered back-scratching.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is a relatively recent addition to the farm bill, and has nothing to do with providing a market for U.S. farmers. It has everything to do with forcing urban congressional attention to farm policy, the ultimate national-security issue. Bluntly, it buys urban votes.
The House Republican leadership understands voter frustration with thousand-page bills that have to be passed before anyone knows what’s in them. Mega-bills are written by special interests and will always be inherently flawed.
Passing a farm bill that focuses on farming is the start of a great trend.
Sue Lani Madsen, Edwall