President Obama is blaming GOP vice-presidential choice Congressman Paul Ryan for blocking the farm bill … and it seems that platform is the center of much campaigning and finger-pointing from the top down. Congressman Todd Akin garnered an endorsement from the Missouri Farm Bureau, even though he voted against the farm bill and McCaskill supports it. McCaskill has responded by launching a Missouri “barnstorming tour,” talking to farmers throughout the state about her voting record to support agriculture in our state.
Congressman Sam Graves — who is up for re-election to Northwest Missouri’s 6th Congressional District — says the fight is not only between Democrats and Republicans, but also rural and urban politicians.
Graves says there has been talk of taking federal nutrition programs out of the farm bill and making them two separate policies, but says Congress will always take up federal aid programs such as food stamps, WIC and school lunch programs. He fears if they aren’t linked to farm policy, important protections for farmers will be ignored altogether. In a nutshell, he says urban members of Congress want to talk about food stamps, and the way it’s linked to agriculture now, that ensures agriculture issues get the proper attention in Congress.
He says rather than a “farm bill,” it’s really a “consumer food policy.” Graves says many people don’t realize they rely on ag policy three times a day, that it’s a part of our very basic existence. He says the policy that comes forth must ensure that the food safety, production and affordability in the U.S. remains at the top of the global market.
He says the current administration has “blown up” the food stamps program, tripling the amount of people who are eligible to receive them. He thinks that’s where the divide begins on how the farm bill should be handled in Congress. He calls the process frustrating.
The full Senate passed its farm bill version, yet the House has yet to take up the version passed by the House Ag Committee — so it has yet to come up for debate. Agriculture Secretary Vilsack and others say they’re opposed “Darwinian cuts” to nutrition programs.