On Jan. 2 the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management, or FARRM Act, was passed in Congress, with about two-thirds of the committee voting yes. This act was designed to replace the Farm Act, an act that has existed and been built upon since the middle of last century.
There has been extraordinary controversy surrounding this bill for months, though only now that it has been passed has the full extent of the debate reached the public eye. Listening to commentary from both Democrats and Republicans goes absolutely nowhere; one side saying the exact opposite of the other, so it has become a decidedly partisan landscape for the issue it addresses.
Here’s the gist of it, from someone who has nothing better to do than to read the actual bill, HR 2642:
The FARRM act is flaunted as a subsidy program to bolster the always tentative agricultural economy in this country. Republican supporters of the bill, such as Representative Steven King, report that, “FARRM provides certainty to farmers and producers by being cognizant of our current fiscal situation, saving almost $20 billion over the life of the bill.” Thought the bill costs less, this is reportedly because it is producing proportionately less.
HR 2642 is also the first Farm Bill in almost 70 years that detaches itself from the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, better known as SNAP. The bills have been historically interlocked because of their supreme relevance; the same farmers getting support by the Farm Bill are selling their food to the SNAP program. This is an attempt by conservative groups to shave off what they consider a liberal amendment, because the passing of the bill affects a large number of their voting populace.
For instance, when Congressman Braley of Iowa voted “no” on this bill, the opposing Iowan politician, Joni Ernst, took the moment to claim that, “Congressman Braley voted against Iowa’s hard-working farmers today and again demonstrated just how out of touch he’s become in Washington, D.C.”
In fact, Braley voted “no” because he believed that, “This is a fake Farm Bill. It’s nothing less than a wolf in sheep’s clothing that would dismantle the Farm Bill itself,” according to a statement released before the vote was held.
Furthermore, the parts of the bill that will still function show remarkable capitalistic overtones, giving incredible subsidies to sugar cane, sugar beet, and cotton to the exemption of most other commodities, despite a vocal clamor for reform in these bloated sectors of the agricultural economy. In short, it appears that what we, the people, have in return for this divisionary partisan bill received the reduction of food services for the needy and poor, and will witness an increase in spending massive amounts of money on massive corporations. If it wasn’t the middle of winter I’d advise you to start growing food in your own garden. As is, well, good luck.