Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
July 23, 2014

Don’t Forget About the Farm Bill

With discussion focussed on the floundering Affordable Care Act, little attention has been paid to Congressional progress on the farm bill.

The Atlantic draws attention back to the proposed legislation, claiming that the Obama administration is making every effort to downplay the politics.

“In an interview at the Washington Ideas Forum on Wednesday, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack described a bill that’s about pretty much everything but the money the federal government gives to American farmers. People need to ‘understand the extraordinary opportunity this bill presents to grow the economy, to stabilize our energy security, to rebuild the infrastructure that’s important to rebuild in rural areas,’ he said.”

Vilsack’s interviewer, Ruth Marcus, translates: “You’ve got two disparate interests: food stamps, now SNAP [the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program], that are essential to one constituency, and you’ve got a House bill that’s talking about cutting them by an astonishing amount … and “you’ve got equally entrenched on the other side … ‘wasteful farm subsidies’ that you are trying to work with.”

The Atlantic’s interpretation: “the administration sees food stamps as a subtle subsidy for farmers: If poor people have more money to buy food, farmers will be able to sell more food.”

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