Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Monday, May 19, 2008

"McMorris Rodgers: Farm Bill is veto-proof; Washington congresswoman was part of committee that struck balance between House, Senate versions"

I would like to hear some thoughts on the Farm Bill. There are quite a few Palousitics readers who are actively involved with agriculture. As you know, the new Farm Bill has been met with a firestorm of criticism from many on the right.

In any case, Rep. McMorris Rodgers is to be commended for serving the needs of her constituents.

From Saturday's Moscow-Pullman Daily News:
McMorris RogersU.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers is confident Congress will override a veto of the Farm Bill if President George W. Bush stays true to his word and axes the current form of the legislation.

The Senate voted 81-15 to approve the five-year, $307 billion farm bill Thursday, while the House voted 318-106 in favor of the legislation Wednesday. McMorris Rodgers, a Republican from Washington, said the bill's strong support gives it a veto-proof majority.

"If the president should veto the bill, the House and the Senate can override with two-thirds of the vote," she said.

Bush has said the measure is too expensive and gives too much money to wealthy farmers.

McMorris Rodgers said the bill does have its deficiencies - as any large bill would - but it does provide much-needed support for Palouse-area wheat farmers should the commodities market take a downturn.

"At the top of the list is the safety net it provides for Washington wheat growers," McMorris Rodgers said. "It provides them some certainty."

McMorris Rodgers said wheat farmers are benefiting from recent high prices, but average prices for wheat have been between $3.50 and $4 over the past 10 years. Farmers would no longer be able to support themselves if prices returned to those levels, considering rising fuel and fertilizer costs.

"There's no guarantees (these prices are) sustainable, and during times when prices are down it's important they have a safety net," McMorris Rodgers said.

The bill also includes other provisions to help wheat growers and other specialty crop farmers expand their markets, McMorris Rodgers said. That's welcome news to Washington wheat farmers who export roughly 80 percent of their crops.

The bill also has provisions for research money that could make its way to local universities.

"We will do our best to get some of it to Washington State University," she said.

McMorris Rogers was appointed to a Congressional committee in April with the sole purpose of ironing out differences between separate and differing versions of the Farm Bill passed by the House and Senate. That position allowed her to ensure the interests of Washington and the Palouse were represented.

"I was thrilled to be on the congressional committee and work to protect the interested of Washington growers," she said.

U.S. Rep. Bill Sali of Idaho also voted in favor of bill. In a news release, Sali praised the bill for its support of specialty crops that are important to Idaho agriculture, funding for pest and disease programs, and for its support of alternative fuels.

"While far from perfect, this bill happens to be very good for Idaho agriculture," Sali stated. "It is important that we create a sensible farm policy, so that we will never have a day when we speak of America's reliance on foreign food, the way we speak of America's reliance on foreign oil. A safe, abundant and diverse food supply is essential to our state and our country, and this measure will help ensure that Idahoans and all Americans enjoy high quality food and fiber in coming years."


Michael said...

As John Boehner said of the immigration reform bill, "this is a a piece of shit."

" Pathetic. Craven. Irresponsible. Unprincipled. Those and similar adjectives apply to every member of Congress who voted for the bloated, anti-consumer piece of legislative corruption known as the Food and Energy Conservative Act of 2008 a k a as “the farm bill.” President Bush has promised to veto the bill. To put it plainly, everybody in Congress who votes to override the coming Bush veto should be retired come November because they will have voted for a measure that is nothing more -- or less -- than a $300 billion giveaway of the taxpayers’ hard-earned money. This is especially true for conservative Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats who brag about their fiscal rectitude.

We’ve already editorialized that the bill is a budge buster even without the grab bag of spending gimmicks. We’ve noted that it will continue to give subsidies to millionaires who actually live in Manhattan and who might not even use their “farmland” for food crops. (Those subsidies will come from tax dollars confiscated from millions of working families of four making, say, $35,000. How is that fair?) But we actually understated the expense and duplicity of providing retroactive “disaster relief” for crop losses for which the 2002 farm bill previously covered in advance through federal crop insurance. As it turns out, the bill also keeps the crop insurance going forward, plus provides $3.8 billion in advance for any unforeseen “disasters” that may, uh, crop up.

On these pages last Friday, columnist Tim Carney described how the bill increases subsidies for domestic sugar growers that, combined with restrictions on imported sugar, will drive up U.S. food prices substantially -- and, even worse, how it provides for the government to buy “excess” sugar at high prices, then re-sell it to ethanol facilities at as little as one-tenth the price.

There also are inexcusable local-interest flimflams such as a $250 million tax credit for a private land sale in Montana and a provision to “sell” national forest land, necessitating a shifting of the Appalachian Trail, to benefit a Vermont ski resort. Worse -- and this is brand new -- House and Senate negotiators “air-dropped” several expensive provisions into the bill that neither chamber had voted on, including $170 million for salmon fisheries in California. Then there is yet another fuel subsidy, this one for “cellulosic” ethanol, at a five-year cost to taxpayers of $348 million. All of this, at a time when the federal deficit this year is expected to hit $400 billion and the federal debt approaches $9.4 trillion. In short, this bill is so stuffed that it deserves to be named by an agricultural term -- bull, uh, manure."

April E. Coggins said...

I'm afraid that the ag business is going the way of the energy business. Productive and efficient farming is being attacked for not being "green" enough. Backward, inefficient farming is being rewarded. Meanwhile, farmers are being paid off and more handouts that will amount to fewer mouths being fed can be expected.

A local, feel good case in point. I wonder how many poor families in Africa could be fed on these ten acres?

Mattwi said...

Who knows... but I think the problem with feeding Africa sits squarely on the mis-management of the African bread Basket by "Uncle Bob Mugabe"...