"Laws are like sausages. It’s better not to see them being made,” Otto von Bismarck is credited as saying.
That sage expression particularly applies to the farm bill passed by the House on July 11.
Pushed to the finish line with only Republican support, it was the antithesis of the idea that farm bills are one policy arena where Republicans and Democrats, where urban and rural, the landed and the landless, can find common ground.
While House Republicans were able to pass the farm bill without food stamp or school meal provisions, there is no certainty when the legislation will be conferenced with the Senate. All Democrats voted against the bill.
The House must soon take up the politically explosive food stamp and other nutrition programs separately or the Senate is likely to return the farm bill for final passage in the House with the Senate’s version of the nutrition programs intact.
Still, action in the House was better than no action at all.
Giving the sentiment of most policy-oriented produce organizations, the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance welcomed the House passage of the revised 2013 farm bill as the next step to enacting a five-year plan for federal agriculture policy.
It is that much, if barely. The ugly debate about the split farm bill in the House is a reminder of why keeping the nutrition title with the farm program is the better approach for the long-term.
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