To the Editor:
I'm writing in reference to two recent items in your paper on the Farm Bill under negotiation in Washington, D.C.
First, "Food stamps, milk prices on the table," a news article by the Associated Press; and second, "Farm Bill brings people together," an opinion piece by Congressman Tim Walz.
The AP article clearly stipulates what the majority of the legislation is about: food stamps, with an $80 billion annual price tag or $400 billion over the duration of the bill. Billion, with a capital "B" is the stuff of which deficits are made.
Historically, the Farm Bill had legitimate groundings in rural America and for the population as a whole. With the advent of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), better known as food stamps, consuming 80 percent of the funds in the bill, it is a misnomer to call it a Farm Bill in today's day and age.
It is important to understand that the $400 billion, five-year cost is more than double what the cost was in the previous five-year bill.
Congressman Walz's column not only surprised but also disappoints as it addressed only the agricultural and rural aspects of the bill without a single mention of food stamps and the cost of same.
The farm and rural amenities in the bill are well acknowledged but are no longer the drivers of the bill as they once were.
The food stamp program is driving the current bill. The House wants a reduction of $4 billion per year, including changes in eligibility and work requirements, while the Senate wants 1/10th of that amount or $400 million per year.
Money we all understand. Eligibility and work requirements are ideals and truths the farming community also understands. Congressman Walz contends: "The Farm Bill has traditionally been one of the great, bipartisan comprimises in Congress." I would suggest those days are long gone with the exploding cost of the food stamp program in recent years.
Promoting the bill as a Farm Bill only is misleading to his constituents as to the totality of the legislation.