Our Representatives left Washington without passing a Farm Bill, leaving one of the nation's most vital enterprises high and dry -- in more ways than one.
Every five years, Congress passes a massive bundle of legislation commonly called the "Farm
Bill," that sets national policy on agriculture, nutrition, conservation and forestry. The title is too vague to communicate all the important programs included under its broad umbrella -- from food stamps to federal crop insurance, farm loans and other essential
The current Farm Bill was passed in 2008. It expires at the end of this month.
Farmers rely on the farm bill for federal crop insurance. Thousands of America's farmers are facing the devastation of one of the most destructive droughts in history. They are waiting for relief while their elected representatives play games with their livelihoods and security.
President Obama has called on Congress to pass the stalled five-year Farm Bill, declaring that more than anything else, that bill would bring relief from the historic drought gripping most of rural America. The president said, "That's the single best way to help rural communities both in the short term and in the long term."
Even in the best of circumstances, the challenges faced by our farmers illustrate some of the deep unfairness still operating in our society. The disparities in farm subsidies offer an alarming example. The top 10 percent of U.S. farm recipients receive an average of $82,223 per farmer, and 26 recipients received at least $1 million last year. The average subsidy payment to smaller growers, including most black farmers, runs around $200. I and other black farmers can tell you the farm subsidy program has not been a friend those in our struggling category.
Congress is playing games with American farmers. And almost no one seems to hear our cry. We farmers rallied in Washington earlier this month urging Congress to, but got little media attention. So, most of the public did not get the message,
Where is Congress? These political "leaders" seem to have more important things to do than
function as the American people hired them to do. They are "gone" to campaign to keep their jobs.
I believe their neglect of farmers in favor of election year politics demonstrates that it's time to turn some members of Congress out to pasture! That's one way to get this body to stop playing politics with the lives of the American people.