WHY IS THE FARM BILL SO HARD TO UNDERSTAND?

If you’re confused about what the title “farm bill” refers to, what is in the bill, and more generally why it exists, then welcome to the club. See, certain groups have a vested interest in the farm bill not passing. These groups use the misleading and incorrect information to confuse the general public. If you have a family and a job, it’s crazy to think you have the time to go searching for unbiased information. This blog entry is your simple and straightforward guide to understanding what the farm bill is and why America needs it.

girl_farm_great depressionTo start, it’s important to understand the farm bill is nothing new. Back when a lot of American’s were farming, the Great Depression really hit rural families hard.  To lend a helping hand, the Federal Government passed the first farm bill known as the “Agricultural Adjustment Act”. The bill helped American farmers get through a very rough patch and provided America with enough food to win World War II.

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A lot has happened between now and then. The agricultural economy continues to develop. Over time, fewer kids chose to stay on the farm. When fewer people farm that means that there are fewer people who understand what it means to farm. That’s another way of saying, these days not a lot of people don’t know what happens on the farm. When people don’t farm and they don’t know what it means to farm, this disconnect leads to people not understanding where their food comes from and the process it went through to make it to their plate.

where_does_our_food_come_fromAs I brought up above, outside groups abuse the complexity of modern-day farming and manipulate the “facts” for their own benefit. If fewer people are farming and today’s farmers are usually located in rural areas, then non-farmers outside of rural places don’t regularly interact with farmers. Instead of asking farmers what they do, most people today get their information from non-farmers. Instead of hearing from the very people that work the land, much of the debate about the farm bill today is being done by people in offices and cities.

Over time, these third parties began to fill the disconnect between farmers and non-farmers causing much of the confusion we have today. While most of the country understood while the first farm bill was an absolute necessity, many people question why we still need a farm bill today. As I’ve shown, farming isn’t really popular anymore and despite what you’ve heard, farming isn’t a particularly wealthy job. Upwards of 30% of a farmers income comes from non-farm activity. What that means is most people that farm doesn’t make enough farming alone to support their family.

See, 95% of farms are family farms. That’s a fact a lot of people who don’t like farming today forget to mention. They also forget to mention that farming is unlike other jobs: It’s dependent on the weather, on the climate, and on the earth. Few other jobs deal with such unpredictable variables. Farming today certainly isn’t simple to understand, but its people with an agenda that are making it hard for farmers to get a farm bill that they and the American people can’t live without.

28be5d9 (1)Ted Delicath
Illinois Wesleyan University student

 

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