Illinois Corn: Splitting Farm Bill Is Poor Strategy

Illinois corn farmers are very much against the current proposal to decouple the farm bill and food stamps legislation. Under mounting pressure, House leadership is considering two separate bills to deal with these issues instead of the traditional farm bill structure.

Conventional wisdom says that a farm bill of only traditional farm programs will not pass the House or Senate. There aren’t enough common interests in the issues to intrigue elected officials serving largely urban constituents.

According to Paul Taylor, president of the Illinois Corn Growers Association, although all Congressmen should be concerned with food security and the opportunities to guarantee food for all Americans, many Congressmen just don’t understand the link between farm programs and how they directly impact their urban constituents.

What we saw happen in the House really has less to do with the legislation and more to do with the dysfunction of the House of Representatives itself. Historically, the farm bill represented an opportunity for urban and rural, Republican and Democrat to work together and give and take their way to a final bill that worked for all Americans. In the current political environment, compromise is not valued. Therefore, we are left without workable farm policy or nutrition program reform.

“This farm bill should be going down in history as a forward thinking, budget-minded bill that supports all Americans. Instead it will be remembered as one of the biggest debacles ever in the history of the U.S. House of Representatives,” he said.

In fact, a farm bill has not failed to pass since sometime in the 1930s. Further, for the Speaker of the House to vote for a bill that fails on the floor is a considerably uncommon event.

“What most people fail to consider in this discussion is that the SNAP program (food stamps) and crop insurance are permanent law. Those programs persist without any reform from the House or Senate. Failure to compromise actually results in a win for the status quo. The only option that is worse for Americans is not passing anything at all,” he said.

Splitting the bill would likely fail both options, according to experts. There is a reason why the two have been coupled and remained coupled for years. Illinois Corn will continue to work with the Illinois delegation to ensure that these programs remain coupled and a meaningful bill passed in 2013.

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