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The farm bill needs to be a bipartisan legislation


Sioux Falls, S.D. (KELO AM) - As ever the House of Representatives and the Senate agree to disagree; this time on the farm bill which will have an affect agriculture and nutrition programs.  It’s of the opinion of the South Dakota Farmers Union (SDFU) that the bill must be passed; an extension isn’t enough.

“The Senate passed the farm bill twice last year and this year, but the House didn’t see enough cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or food stamps and separated the two,” said Doug Sombke, President of the South Dakota Farmers Union.  “Senator Collin Peterson, Minn. Senior Agriculture Member agrees with us that the two shouldn’t be separated while Chairman Frank Lucas from Okla. wanted to just get a farm bill passed.  We found it to be an embarrassment to ourselves and the country, but we wanted to compromise.”

Sombke said this is the first time something like this has happened since the 1930s. We reminded the House that if the farm bill wasn’t passed in time, it would revert back to the laws of 1938 and 1949 and that would make the prices go higher.  The people in the House need to take a better look at how we take care of the needy and the farm community in America.

“Things are hard right now, and you will see people applying for SNAP, but in reality it’s only one out of six applying,” said Sombke.  “Having a good nutrition program helps our youth with lunch and backpack programs where they can take food home.  Also, Meals on Wheels programs are helping our elderly and cutting those programs would be a big disgrace to our country.”

“This thing is far from over and I don’t see us having this ready before the end of the deadline,” said Sombke.  “I can see it being extended more than once and even vetoed by the President.  It reminds me of the 1996 Freedom to Farm Bill that cut a lot of conservation and nutrition programs.  All that came of that was years of bailing out farmers because of economic and farm prices that dropped.”

Sombke said a lot of people like the 2008 farm bill which he admits wasn’t perfect, but with a few adjustments it can be better that what is being proposed now.  Some of those adjustments include nutrition and crop insurance.  It amazes us that it is split and the media doesn’t really care about what we have been talking about for a couple of years.

“If this farm bill fails to pass, crop insurance and nutrition will still be intact and Congress will have had their input for cleanup cuts,” said Sombke. “If we see the 1996 farm bill again, Congress will have to do ad-hoc disaster bills and we will be in the limelight again.  I am grateful the farm economy was a strong as it was through the last recession because farmers in South Dakota would have really felt it.”