New Farm Bill Lends Helping Hand
Published: Thursday, February 13, 2014
Updated: Thursday, February 13, 2014 09:02
Any individual who is fortunate to drive through the rural Midwest during the summer months is almost certainly aware of the importance of the rolling fields of corn and soy beans that cover the land. The great states of North Dakota and Minnesota are vital participants in the agricultural industry, something that is well known to the natives of those states.
Fortunately, more than just the fine residents of the Midwest know the crucial nature of this livelihood. Legislators recently passed the Agricultural Act of 2014, a bill signed into law last Friday by President Obama. The passage of agriculturally targeted bills is not something new to those familiar with the backbone of the North Dakota and Minnesota economies — but given the state of U.S. economy as a whole, this one may strike a different note.
It is no secret that the United States is in debt. In fact, it has become a very open and heated topic of discussion on all political levels. Bills such as the recently passed Agricultural Act of 2014 are, to put it simply, contributing to an already rising debt level.
Proponents of the bill of course point to the necessity of promoting the agricultural base of the Midwest, something that can hardly be argued. Farming is an essential fiber of the Midwestern economy, and without some degree of aid, food prices would likely skyrocket.
Unfortunately however, the Agricultural Act of 2014 is little more than a misnomer. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the bill comes with an overall price tag of $956 billion. This number is staggering to begin with, even considering the roughly $17 trillion that the U.S. owes. Even more staggering is that approximately $756 billion of that sum will be dedicated to nutrition programs.
The term “nutrition program” is, in reality, simply polite phrasing for what is colloquially known as a food stamp program. Nutrition programs such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, have been tied to agricultural legislation for some time, an occurrence that often prompts questions. Why would the majority of a bill supposedly directed at agriculture be targeted predominantly towards those who have no ties to the agriculture industry?
Residents of agriculturally based states such as North Dakota and Minnesota generally favor the passage of agriculture-oriented bills, as they realize the importance of farming to their states. However, if legislation such as the Agricultural Act of 2014 was marketed as an increase in food stamp spending, its reception would likely be much less positive.
Unfortunately, as the situation stands, only a fraction of the $956 billion spent by the bill will go to the hardworking farmers of the Midwest. The rest will be distributed over a population almost completely uninvolved with the production of our nation’s food.