So I promised to do a little looking into what it would mean if the Farm Bill of 2012 became the Farm Bill of 1949. And I have. Let me tell you, it wouldn’t be pretty. Since the 1949 bill has no provision for the SNAP (food stamps) program the federal funding for that program would disappear. Not good news in the middle of this Great Recession. But there is a definite current of opinion that holding up the farm bill is directly linked to trying to cut food support to the poor.
Milk price supports would also change. Maine Secretary of Agriculture Walt Whitcomb and a group of dairy farmers from the state have headed to DC to see what can be done. Here’s the press release, it really doesn’t tell you what they are going to be asking for but at least they are going to try to help Maine dairy farmers somehow, I guess. On the other hand if the old price supports for milk in the 1949 bill take effect the price for a hundred weight of milk would go from the current $10 to $38.63. I can’t wrap my head around what that will mean for the price of a gallon of milk but it sure sounds like a windfall for the dairy farmers.
The USDA is taking all this very seriously. They have several experts working on how to implement a 20th century farm bill in 2013. They must feel that this do-nothing, obstructionist congress may very well allow this to happen.
And real pessimists are saying that it may all be a ploy by the Grumpy Old Plutocrats to gut farm subsidies even further in their attempts to decrease the deficit and give themselves and their rich friends more tax breaks. It is yet another chorus in their ongoing song of no more money for that lazy 48%, cut their “entitlements.”
The good news, if there is any, is that current price support programs, and food stamps, are covered until January. The money is already in the pipeline and so the bottom is not going to fall out from under farmers and those dependent on SNAP until next year. In the middle of the winter. As people are trying to stay warm and buy food. And farmers are trying to plan their next growing season. Maybe it’s not such good news after all.