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Farm Bill’s reality

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To The Editor:

The news media at the close of 2012 was focused primarily on the approaching “fiscal cliff.” It certainly made for some interesting speculation and also dire predictions as to what might happen in the New Year.

One of the most controversial issues in the national budget is the so-called Farm Bill. Let’s take a closer look at what this bill actually consists of.

Approximately 75 to 80 percent of the $284 billion of the five-year Farm Bill goes to food stamps and other nutritional assistance programs, not farm subsidies as is often presented by the media and subsequently miss perceived by the public.

First a little history on how this legislation originated.Sheila Marshman, president-elect of the New York Agri-Women, presents some very pertinent facts on this subject. The U.S. government back in 1933 determined the consumer needed to have a consistent supply of safe food at affordable prices.Thus the first Farm Bill was born. In today’s world, the Farm Bill is labeled the Food, Conservation and EnergyAct of 2008. This bill represents a mere 2 percent of the national budget and is largely dedicated, approximately 70 to 80 percent, to domestic nutrition assistance programs.These programs include, but are not limited to the Women, Infants and Children program (WIC), consumer nutrition programs, food stamps, school lunches and breakfast programs.The remaining percentage is divided among various agriculture-related programs, primarily crop insurance, shared risk programs, farm commodity price supports and conservation.

All combined, these efforts allow U.S. consumers access to an abundance of safe, high-quality and inexpensive food, which is not available in many other countries.

Perhaps, what makes this bill so controversial is that all Americans benefit from its existence.

In many developing nations today, consumers spend more than 30 percent of their income on food.Also today, a record number, 46.37 million Americans, receive benefits from some type of food assistance program at a cost of $6.025billion per month.

The Farm Bill, meaning the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008, exists to ensure a consistent and safe supply of food at affordable prices to the American consumer, not primarily to benefit those involved in producing our food, i.e. production agriculture, the farmers.

As part of the recent fiscal Cliff deal, Congress took the easy way out and passed an extension until September2013 of the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008.

This action tends to leave farmers in a rather uncertain situation as to how the next congressional action this fall may affect the type of crops to grow this season.

I hope this bird’s eye view of the so called “Farm Bill of 2008” may have cleared up some of the mystery involved here, as it certainly did for me.

Jim Hargrave Brandy-View FarmsLLC

Madrid

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