The Free Press, Mankato, MN

January 13, 2013

Your View: Farm bill, nutrition bills have to be connected

Doug Peterson, President, Minnesota Farmers Union , Madison

— I believe the opinion piece titled, “Our View: Split up farm bill, debate merits separately” is well-intended and a bit idealistic to the point of being naive in spirit and outcome.

The brutal reality is that Washington, D.C. and Congress would never put together enough votes to address the needs for food production and nutrition separately; they need to keep these two issues together in order to get the legislation to garner floor time and debate, and this is part of what the editorial board of The Mankato Free Press does not address: how Congress actually works.

Separating these two issues would lead to severe reductions in funding on conservation programs, as well as crop insurance, and as Congress becomes more urban and suburban, less people understand where food comes from and the risks farmers take each and every year when they plant their crop.

There is no assurance that weather will cooperate — farmers are always at the mercy of what Mother Nature brings, because Mother Nature always bats last. These issues would be lost on the members of Congress who are not from rural areas, therefore the farm bill would never see floor time, leaving our nation with a food security risk.

Getting things done in Congress is about building coalitions and compromises in order to do that with the farm bill, agriculture legislation needs to be coupled with nutrition. Farmers are responsible for providing the food, fiber and fuel for our country and for national security reasons it is too important to separate the farm bill into its own legislation because we would never see a farm bill and never have food security.