I did it, I got in my first fight. Not a fist fight, mind you. But a Twitter fight, the 140-character back-and-forth on my phone with two individuals I have never met, will never meet but know I do not see eye-to-eye with.
It started with a Tweet to a reporter I heard comment on the farm bill, calling it a hand out for farmers that are getting rich off government subsidies. I simply responded that the statement wasn’t true. Three hours later, and a few more participants, we were still debating the purpose of the farm bill and the need for farming in general.
It’s hard to summarize a complex issue like the farm bill in 140 characters but what I can tell you is that the farm bill is agriculture policy not a government hand out. Farmers look to the farm bill for guidelines when making planting decisions, purchasing insurance and planning irrigation and conservation changes.
The farm bill does include grant programs designed to entice farmers to upgrade to more efficient watering systems or preserve waterways and terraces for wildlife and nature. And crop insurance is one of the best risk management tools, allowing farmers to protect their investments and secure a future – in the event Mother Nature strikes.
Farmers do not and cannot get rich on the farm bill alone and do not look to the legislation for hand outs and free money. Without a farm bill, the agriculture industry is left without a road map and policy guidance. The crop insurance program could be destroyed and conservation efforts could be undone without the legislation. The United States Department of Agriculture could be at risk of disappearing and agriculture rules and regulations would be left to agencies that have time and again proven they have no understanding of agriculture and rural America.
American citizens spend only 10% of their income on food because the farm bill has allowed the country to create and sustain a dependable and affordable food supply. Eliminating the 50-plus year-old legislation would put that supply in jeopardy and leave farmers and their crops susceptible to natural disasters that would eliminate their farm, their way of life and ability to continue growing food.
If you want to eat and want to continue enjoying your $1 cheeseburgers, Congress must pass a farm bill. Farmers need the policy and guidance that comes with the legislation and consumers need affordable, reliable food.