John Block Reports from Washington
John Block has dedicated his professional career to the fields of agriculture, food and health.
Can We Get Anything Done?
Jul 10, 2013
With a long 4th of July weekend, I spent a little more time reading the paper and getting updated on what is going on in our Capitol City and the world. I’m not surprised. The government can’t get anything done and the world is in turmoil.
The farm bill in the House blew up. Can it be salvaged? Members are going to try. The money in the farm bill is 80% food stamps and 20% farm. The two sides have to work together to ever get the bill passed. Conservatives in the House don’t think there are enough cuts in the bill. They would cut both the food side and farm side more. Food stamp supporters don’t want any cuts.
The Senate bill cuts only 4 billion dollars on the food side where the failed House bill cut 20 billion dollars.
I still believe that we will get a bill passed, but it won’t be easy. It’s not like the old days. The nation’s population has moved into the cities. Only 2.2 million people work on farms. That’s less than 3% of the work force. There are no more than 40 House districts that could be classified as farm districts.
Farm prices are good. We have an abundance of food. So, the question is, why spend a lot of money on a farm program?
There is talk of splitting the farm bill into two bills – one for food and the other for farm. Farm organizations oppose that idea. If they should split the two, I would expect even deeper spending cuts.
On another front, there is some positive news on the horse slaughter question. Secretary Vilsack has authorized inspections of horse meat processing plants in New Mexico and Iowa. We have not been able to process horse meat since 2007. The news is not all positive. President Obama wants legislation to ban horse slaughter. He hasn’t indicated what to do with all the unwanted horses. Is turning them loose on the road or shipping them to Mexico for slaughter a better idea? Every Member of Congress that votes to ban slaughter should be presented with an unwanted horse on their door step. It should be their job to care for the unwanted horses.
The idea of wasting all of that meat, which is in demand in many countries, is wasteful. There are hungry people in the world.
Stay tuned. We’ll see if this government can get anything done. Don’t hold your breath.