OPINION COLUMNS

Remember what we’re fighting for

By Paris Walther | Published Monday, July 8, 2013

We still don’t have a Farm Bill.

And the good Lord knows that it’s making me crazy, along with everyone else who comes in contact with my politically-fueled emotional distress.

Back in May, everyone was convinced the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013 was going to pass. There were a few leaders who hemmed and hawed about the food stamp portion, but for the most part everyone just wanted to get it done.

This piece of agriculture legislation was voted down in June.

I’d like to say our upstanding political leaders are looking out for farmers and ranchers and just didn’t feel that this bill would serve them appropriately – I’d really like to. But I’m seeing more political party bickering than agriculture reform at the moment.

I nearly had a cow when I read some of the headlines that surfaced after the Farm Bill’s defeat:

“Embarrassing setback for the House GOP with farm bill defeat”

“House leadership draws flack on farm bill defeat”

I guess I’m like most teen girls – I tend to blow things out of proportion. I get dramatic. I make situations all about me when they are affecting someone else in a worse way.

And I’ve come to the conclusion that the House is being a teenage girl.

This bill covers everything from food stamps to crop insurance programs, and it protects our biggest heroes out there right now – the farmers and ranchers. One of our larger priorities should be getting this bill whipped out – correctly and efficiently of course – and fast.

These headlines are suggesting that the House Leadership (Republicans) are taking the brunt of this blow. I understand that it is pretty ridiculous that they couldn’t pass their own version of the Farm Bill. But while this might be upsetting to them, I’ll bet I can think of some people closer to home who might be feeling it a little more.

While the House continues to reel from embarrassment, a soybean farmer from Mississippi is trying to decide whether or not he wants to replace some of his farm equipment because he still doesn’t know what price-support programs he will operate under until something is passed.

Livestock producers will have to manage almost another year without a disaster insurance program because that expired in 2011. This measure assisted producers after droughts and other weather-related catastrophes occurred. To put that into perspective, the last drought affected 70 percent of producers in the U.S., leaving cattle herds the smallest they’ve been since World War II.

But hey, the House is still recovering from their humiliating loss.

OK, in all seriousness, we’ve got to get it together up there. With each week that passes without a Farm Bill (I’m not talking about extensions here; I can’t handle any more of that mess), someone out there is unable to prepare for the future because uncertain is one of the worst things you can be in this industry.

I think it almost might be too much to ask for both parties to work together to come up with a solution. But what other choice do we really have?

Paris Walther, a 2013 Decatur High School graduate, is a summer intern at the Messenger.

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