Why Does the Farm Bill Matter to Us?

— by Hannah Lee

Most Americans are protected from the travails and vagaries of our food sources.  The five-year cycle of Congressional debates on agricultural subsidies may underwhelm you, but it is relevant to your family’s well-being in hidden ways.  On Thursday, the Senate approved a new farm bill that would cost nearly $1 trillion over the next 10 years.

More after the jump.
Sugar subsidies were left in place.  Crop insurance was reduced for the wealthiest farmers, those with adjusted gross incomes of more than $750,000.  This was through the efforts of Senators Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma) and Dick Durbin (D-Illinois), saving $1 billion over 10 years. Recipients would now have to take steps to reduce erosion and protect wetlands, according to a last-minute amendment by Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-Georgia).  The bill eliminated about $5 billion a year in direct payments to farmers and farmland owners, whether or not they grew crops.

The limited good news is new funding for the next generation of farmers through an amendment by Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio).  The bill will also expand block grants to states for research and promotion of fruits and vegetables.  It will encourage the expansion of farmers’ markets.  It will consolidate several conservation programs to make them more efficient.

Despite the efforts of Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York), the biggest cuts were to the food stamp program, now known as the Supplementary Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP.

The House will begin discussion of the bill after the July 4th recess.  The House Republican budget presented by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) would reduce food stamp spending by about $134 billion over the next decade and turn the program into block grants for the states.

Among the 64 Senators approving the Farm Bill was our own Robert Casey (D), while among the 35 Senators rejecting the Farm Bill was Patrick Toomey (R).   Senator Mark Kirk (R-Illinois) was the sole abstention.  

GOP Candidates In Their Own Words

Race Republican Photo Quote Contenders
US Senate
Nevada
Sharron Angel,
State Legislator (Washoe County-26)
  • “People are really looking toward those Second Amendment remedies and saying my goodness what can we do to turn this country around? I’ll tell you the first thing we need to do is take Harry Reid out.” [Link]
Harry Reid, Senate Majority Leader
US Senate
South Carolina
Jim Demint, Incumbent Senator
  • “If a person is a practicing homosexual, they should not be teaching in our schools.” [Link]
  • “I would have given the same answer when asked if a single woman, who was pregnant and living with her boyfriend, should be hired to teach my third grade children.”
    [Link]
Alvin Greene, political unknown
US Senate
Delaware
Christine O’Donnell, marketing consultant
  • “American scientific companies are cross-breeding humans and animals and coming up with mice with fully functioning human brains.” [Link]
  • “Lust in your heart is committing adultery so you can’t masturbate without lust.” [Link]
Chris Coons, New Castle County Executive
US Senate
Pennsylvania
Pat Toomey, Former Congressman (PA-15)
  • “Let’s not tax corporations…. I think the solution is to eliminate corporate taxes altogether.” [Link]
  • “There has been an increase in the surface temperature of the planet over the course of the last 100 years or so. I think it’s clear that that has happened. The extent to which that has been caused by human activity I think is not as clear. I think that is still very much disputed and has been debated.” [Link]
Joe Sestak, retired Admiral and Congressman (PA-7)
US Senate
Kentucky
Rand Paul, opthamologist and son of Congressman Ron Paul (TX-14)
  • “Decisions concerning private property and associations should in a free society be unhindered. As a consequence, some associations will discriminate…. A free society will abide unofficial, private discrimination – even when that means allowing hate-filled groups to exclude people based on the color of their skin.” Link]
Jack Conway, Secretary of State
US Senate
Connecticut
Linda McMahon,
co-founder of World Wrestling Entertainment
  • “So I still don’t think we know the long-term effects of steroids. They are continuing to study it more and more, but I don’t believe there are a lot of studies out there today that are conclusive.” [Link]
Richard Blumenthal, Attorney General
US Senate
Louisiana
David Vitter, incumbent Senator
  • “I personally don’t have standing to bring litigation in court. But I support conservative legal organizations and others who would bring that to court. I think that is the valid and most possibly effective grounds to do it.” [On birther investigations] [Link]
Charlie Melançon, Congressman LA-3
US Senate
Alaska
Joe Miller Scott McAdams, lawyer; and Lisa Murkowski, incumbent Senator
US Senate
Colorado
Ken Buck, Weld County District Attorney
  • “You are taking a very small group of cases and making a point about abortion. We have hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of abortions in this country every year. And the example that you give is a very poignant one, but an extremely rare occurrence.” [Defending his opposition to abortion even in the case of rape and incest] [Link]
Michael Bennet, incumbent Senator, and Tom Tancredo, former Congressman (CO-6)
US Senate
Oklahoma
Tom Coburn
  • “Lesbianism is so rampant in some of the schools in southeast Oklahoma that they’ll only let one girl go to the bathroom. Now think about it. Think about that issue. How is it that that’s happened to us?” [Link]
Jim Rogers, teacher
US Senate
Alabama
Richard Shelby
  • “Well, his father was Kenyan and they said he was born in Hawaii, but I haven’t seen any birth certificate.” [Link]
William Barnes, lawyer
House of Representatives
Delaware (At-Large)
Glen Urquhart,
real estate financer
  • “Do you know, where does this phrase ‘separation of church and state’ come from? It was not in Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists…. The exact phrase ‘separation of Church and State’ came out of Adolph Hitler’s mouth, that’s where it comes from. So the next time your liberal friends talk about the separation of Church and State ask them why they’re Nazis.” [Link]
John Carney, Lt. Governor

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