Many people in Washington believe that a new farm bill will be debated before the 2012 election and in this week’s From The Ground Up Ashley Batey tells us that one Washington insider believes the best that agricultural producers can hope for is something that’s similar to the current farm bill.
“In terms of the pending farm bill, there are congress men and women in Washington, that for no other reason other than they don’t understand it, their whole push is going to be to eliminate all of the commodity programs, all the environmental programs, all of the crop insurance programs, and the only thing that would be left in the ag bill are the food programs.”
Joe Outlaw is an ag economist for Texas Agrilife Extension and spends a lot of his time in Washington.
“About eighty per cent of all of the spending in this country is social programs, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and most of the time that doesn’t get touched because it’s so controversial.”
Proponents of a safety net for agriculture argue that less than one quarter of one per cent of federal spending that also results in a consumer safety net is a wise investment.
“Our consumer in this country doesn’t think one bit about going to the grocery store and that the shelves are going to actually be full. That’s one of the things I do in class to try and make people connect all the dots to where does the food come from, not just the grocery store but take a few steps back and what would interrupt that supply? “
Outlaw believes ultimately that lesson may have to be learned the hard way.
“It’s really an education thing, and the education unfortunately is going to come from the market, when there is going to be a problem, because I don’t see any other way around it.”
The debate on the farm bill will take place in Washington.
“There are a number of other people up there that actually understand the bigger picture, and the fact that what a small down payment this country makes to agriculture to provide this safety net for the amount of protection we get in terms of a stable food supply.”
I’m Ashley Batey, taking a look at the journey our food makes from the farms to our tables, From The Ground Up.