As the media attention in September has largely focused on the Supreme Court nomination, Iowa's farmers have patiently waited for Congress to complete an assignment given to them five years ago.
The Farm Bill, in all of its imperfections, expires Sunday.
Predictably, the versions passed by the Senate and the House of Representatives this summer held key difference and hurdles. Negotiations have also predictably rotted into the fall, and the timing couldn't be worse.
While the bulk of the disagreements focus on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, our farming system is in peril.
Prices are low and dropping. With another bumper crop waiting to come out of the ground, this will be a concern for at least the next year.
Small farms are being overrun by conglomerates, limiting market opportunities and keeping those low crop prices low.
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Tariffs and trade spats have long-term goals, but the short-term handouts won't be enough to make up the losses. And we've noted before that, all of use will pay for those payments in one form or another.
In all cases, our rural neighbors and rural communities lose. In North Iowa, a healthy ag sector grows communities.
An ideal Farm Bill, in our view, promotes diverse and quality food production and maintains or improves protections for water and soil. Perhaps most importantly, it would address the rising issue of overproduction that negatively impacts the markets and land in so many ways.
We recognize the main point of disagreement, SNAP, isn't easy to resolve. The danger in reducing the number of those eligible will increase poverty is real. Additionally, if we have the ability and industry to feed those who are hungry, we should find a way to benefit both.
That's the ongoing debate, but it shouldn't stop work from being done.
The Farm Bill – either renewing the flawed current version or a compromised revision – must be passed without delay.