How to Drive Us Crazy

We spend a lot of time in the home office reading various media accounts of the farm bill process, and every once in a while we see things that cause the blood pressure to jump 20 points and give us a strong desire to go out and kick some misinformed (and occasionally malicious) rear ends.  Below is a rundown on three articles with some truly infuriating lines, and we explain why we hit the roof when we see such bunk.  We invite everyone to send us more examples of farm bill outrageousness.  Shoot an email to dano@cfra.org or stick something in the comments section of this blog post.   

Last week, Congressional Quarterly ran an article discussing the House Leadership’s concern that rural Democrats would lose elections if they voted for strong payment limits.  Nothing could be further from the truth, as we’ve written many times.  But what really set us off was the following anonymous quotes:

A compromise that supports some version of the classic farm subsidies while also boosting spending on conservation, nutrition and energy is likely to be the best they can do this year, aides say.

That would lay the groundwork for broader changes when Congress writes a new law five or six years from now, one aide added.

I would really, really like to know who that "one aide" is.  I would like to invite him or her to the home office Lyons, Nebraska.  We have 950 people and I think many of them would like to have a talk with the congressional aide who thinks rural America should endure another five or six years of failed farm policy because he or she doesn't have the courage to stand up and fight. 

In the same article:

“There’s no swing voter like a farmer,” said Brent Gattis, a farm lobbyist for Olsson Frank Weeda and a former Republican aid for the House farm panel. While many farmers fit a conservative profile, their votes typically come down to money, Gattis said.

Mr. Gattis, if somebody interviews you again, why don’t you just insult the entire farm population a little more.  Heck, you just called every farmer in this country a money-grubbing conservative who only cares about the size of their subsidy check.

Next up is an article in the San Francisco Chronicle about the deal that was cut to give fruit and vegetables more money in the 2007 farm bill.  The drivel about rural Democrats losing votes if they support real payment limitations is repeated, and Pelosi’s spokesperson says the following:

"She's concerned that a lot of them are in rural districts," said Pelosi spokesman Brendan Daly of the freshmen lawmakers, adding that Pelosi is trying to strike a balance between payments to farmers and conservation and nutrition programs.

A balance.  Really.  Given her support for the sham reform proposal offered by the House Agriculture Committee, I think “payments to farmers” really means “million-dollar subsidy checks”.

Also in the San Francisco Chronicle, an article appeared regarding the pressure Pelosi is facing because of her support for the House Ag Committee’s farm bill  (an excellent article, by the way.  And three cheers for those putting the heat on Pelosi.).  Again we see the “balancing” junk:

Pelosi spokesman Brendan Daly said the speaker was trying to "balance equities" between competing groups.

Balancing?  What ended up being balanced is the interests of a relative handful of very rich farmers with the interests of all of America.  And somehow the House farm bill came down on the side of those very few and very rich people.
Not to be outdone, House Ag Committee Chairman Collin Peterson:

"I know people on the outside can sit and complain about this, but frankly most of those people have no clue what they're talking about," Peterson said. "Most people in the city have no concept of what's going on here."

Maybe when those city folk see million dollar checks going to those who don’t even farm, they begin to get a pretty good handle on the concept of unlimited farm program payments.  And I’m happy to extend the same invitation to the Chairman as I do to the anonymous aide quoted previously.  Come on down to Lyons, Nebraska (pop. 950).  We’re not in the city, and we do know what we’re talking aboutWe’d be happy to explain.

Have more examples?  Send them along (dano@cfra.org) or stick them in the comments.  And don’t forget to tell Nancy Pelosi to reject the House Ag Committee’s sham reform.

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