By Brent Fewell
Seems no one except special interest is happy with the Senate’s version of the Farm Bill passed today and which establishes U.S. Agricultural Policy over the next decade at the tune of nearly one trillion dollars. Folks over at Grist are fuming about the Senate’s version while other unnamed “environmental groups” in the NYT are saying it does some good, but not enough. The current bill cuts $24B from current spending and does a better job at saving jobs and helping the starving poor in this country, while cutting conservation by $3.5B. Some conservatives, like Senator Ted Cruz, are unhappy, arguing the Bill does more harm than good, spreading the love among politicians and special interests while perpetuating entitlements unrelated to agricultural policy – nothing new there. Unclear how this will be resolved in reconciliation, but given the Houses’s more aggressive cuts, more cuts are inevitable [Update: On June 20, in a 195-234 vote, the House rejected a five-year Farm Bill, with 62 GOP Members voting against the legislation in favor of a smaller more conservative bill].
Nathanael Johnson, over at Grist, refers to the Senate’s passage as “late and lame”:
For nearly two decades environmental groups have been advocating for more targeted funding to areas where agricultural needed additional support to advance conservation efforts, e.g., to improve water quality from excess nutrients, and protect wetlands and other sensitive lands. At some point, perhaps libs and conservatives will join hands and have a serious sit down about some of the agricultural subsidies that prop up large agricultural enterprises that don’t need propping up and whose practices often harm the environment. I wish my good friend Andrew McElwaine, a strong conservationist after the likes of the late Senator John Heinz, all the success in the world as he assumes his new leadership role at the American Farmland Trust.