The 2012 Farm Bill is like the 2013 planting season… it just goes on and on!

The Farm Bill is top of mind again this week as it is being debated on Capitol Hill.  The Senate passed a version of the bill with huge savings for tax payers, and the House version saves even more.  The Senate’s proposal would save $24 billion over 10 years; the House version would save $39.7 billion.

Unfortunately, the President is threatening to veto the Farm Bill because it cuts too much funding for food stamps.  The food stamp program, now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), cost almost $80 billion last year – twice the amount it cost just five years ago.

We cannot continue to throw unlimited funds towards the SNAP program!  Anyone who knows me, knows that I do NOT want one hungry person to be denied assistance if he truly needs a hand up.  The problem comes from people who are “milking the system.”  Generations of families have become dependent on public assistance, and the number of people on welfare has sky rocketed in the last six years.  When an Administration spends millions of dollars to advertise food stamps and welfare programs, it’s time for Americans to question the tactics!

How are we going to balance a budget if people are only willing to make cuts to small budget items?  We must dig into the high priced line items:  Medicare and like programs just continue to expand.  I’m not even going to talk about The Affordable Care Act that is draining tax dollars and causing my insurance premiums to increase.  Then there’s the Food Security Bill.  Seriously, who dreams up these names?

As a farmer, I’m concerned that SNAP funding accounts for 80% of the Farm Bill.  Discord over which programs to cut and how much to cut have prevented the Farm Bill from passing.  With the SNAP program and so many other issues wrapped up in the same bill, the Farm Bill has become too complex.

A complex system of rules and regulations is now in place to tell farmers how to best raise their crops.  Although no one knows their business better than farmers, some so-called “experts” are being consulted to develop rules that tell farmers how to raise their animals.  Why not let farmers and ranchers adapt and change as they determine what works best in their operations?  Farmers and ranchers are always trying to be more efficient and want to keep food safe and affordable.

Instead of creating a Farm Bill that benefits everyone, I’d settle for one that would encourage farmers – and a successful rural way of life!