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Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack once created a stir by talking about agriculture's loss of influence in Washington D.C. While some disagree with that assessment, the current farm bill impasse seems to support his position. Even though the nutrition program has twice helped keep this farm bill from passing most ag groups feel a farm bill can't stand on its own. 352 groups recently sent a letter to House Speaker Boehner urging him to bring a unified bill back for a vote. Conventional wisdom seems to call for this all or nothing approach. Obviously the ag community doesn't believe it has the influence to get a bill passed on its own. Unfortunately that is the political reality of our times as politicians see where the most votes are. We can't trust our elected officials or the public to support producers who provide the commodities used in the nutrition programs. While passing a stand alone farm bill would go a long ways to proving agriculture's influence, the risk of failure may be too great. Agriculture's best chance of success now seems as part of a nutrition bill and the influence of others.
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