A year ago at this time, U.S. agriculturalists were speculating about what the next farm bill would look like. There were many different thoughts about what form the legislation could and should take.
But just about everyone, at least on the Northern Plains, agreed that direct payments to farmers would end. Politically and economically indefensible in a time of strong farm profits and huge federal budget deficits, or so we thought. Ultimately, of course, Congress retained direct payments for another year.
My point? The one thing we all thought we knew, turned out to be wrong. It’s just one more reminder that predicting the future is a tricky business.
All of us, whatever our age or line of work, have had this experience: we think we’ve nearly finished a task, but then learn we have to go back to the beginning and start over. Though frustrated, we grit our teeth and return to work.
That’s how I describe the reaction from area farm group leaders when Congress this week extended parts of the existing five-year farm bill instead of approving a new one. Ag officials worked long and hard to get a new one and they were close to achieving that goal. Naturally they were frustrated when their efforts came up short.
Now they’ll grit their teeth and go back to work.
The U.S. Senate is considering the new farm bill, and a group of celebrity chefs is calling on Congress to cut subsidies to farmers and use the money instead for conservation and healthy food programs.
The Environmental Working Group, a critic of U.S. ag policy, coordinated the letter that the chefs wrote to Congress in which the policy change was requested.
People who agree with the chefs will say they’re concerned citizens responsibly expressing their professional judgment. People who disagree with the chefs will say they’re elitist publicity seekers with limited knowledge of the issues.
I’m not smart or wise enough to ascertain why the chefs got involved. You’ll have to do that on your own.