Late Thursday night, the House Agriculture Committee unanimously passed a farm bill that can only be described as astoundingly unresponsive to widespread calls for reform. That bill may be considered by the full House as soon as this week. Now that the farm bill is out of committee, Nancy Pelosi is the most important player in the process. Now Speaker Pelosi and the House Rules Committee have to choose - and that choice will say much about how they intend to govern. It brings to mind a question Al might ask- Does the House leadership stand with the people or the powerful?
Speaker Pelosi will effectively decide the outcome of the floor debate. That debate should be held after all Americans have the opportunity to make their voices heard regarding the farm bill that has been passed by the Agriculture Committee- and that means delaying floor consideration of the farm bill until after the August recess. After that, the Speaker has three options.
Option 1: She can live up to the repeated promises of the newly elected majority and allow for a full, open, and honest debate. Option 2: She can short-circuit debate, severely curtail or eliminate the number of amendments for floor consideration, and generally run the House in the same fashion as her predecessors. Option 3: She can support real reform on the central issue of farm policy- ending million-dollar subsidy checks to mega-farms.
The third option appears to be highly unlikely. Here is Pelosi’s three part statement regarding the just-passed-out-of-committee farm bill:
"The Farm Bill represents a critical first step toward reform by eliminating payments to millionaires,
Not so fast. The Committee’s sham reform proposal lowered the adjusted gross income limit on farm program payments to a still-astonishing $1,000,000. And if you’re married the limit is $2,000,000. Are we supposed to be pleased by this? Who in their right mind thinks this is substantive reform?
closing loopholes that permit evasion of payment limits,
Hogwash. First, the House Ag Committee closed two loopholes but left others wide open, so those wishing to evade limits will simply restructure their operations to take advantage of the remaining loopholes. Not only that, but out of three farm programs the existing payment limit was raised by 50% on one and removed entirely on another. Not much in the way of improvement here.
and promoting our nation's family farmers.
This is the one that makes the blood boil. Under the House farm bill, we will continue handing out million-dollar checks to some of the richest people in all of America. We’ll continue subsidizing mega-farms to drive their smaller neighbors out of business. We’ll continue to steal billions from one of the best conservation programs. We’ll continue to fail to invest in the future of our rural communities. This is “promoting our nation’s family farmers”? I don’t think so. This is about handing out very large checks to a very small number of people.
The evident defense for this laughable "reform" proposal is the claim that real reform would cost rural Democrats elections. That is complete drivel of the highest order. We've written many times about how poll after poll shows that farmers and rural Americans understand and want real payment limits.
Thanks for your help.