At a rally in support of the massive $1 trillion farm and food stamp bill, the top Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee blamed farmers for the lack of legislative action. Congressman Collin Peterson (D-MN) said, “The groundswell is not out there. It is not happening at the grassroots level.”
In many ways, this is a welcome development. Perhaps Senator Chuck Schumer’s (D-NY) celebratory comments on the demise of the Tea Party were premature. Nevertheless, the real question is why is the groundswell lacking? Well, despite predictions earlier this year that farmers would see a 6.5% decrease in income because of the drought, farm income is now expected to hit a record $122.2 billion!
Undaunted by reality, Peterson touted the rally as “a good starting point” and urged more action. He said, “we need 100 or 200 calls from people in their districts” to lawmakers. If that doesn’t happen, he warned, “we’re not going to get a farm bill.”
Anecdotal evidence suggests farmers did not occupy the congressional phone lines.
Peterson concluded, “It’s that simple. We went through August and we really didn’t see the groundswell of support out there. We’ve got to make this happen. You’ve got to make this happen. It’s got to come from the grassroots.”
The message from Peterson and others is simple: if the farm bill fails, it’s your fault, not ours.
Another reason (besides record income) farmers were not picking up the phone is because, for many, they are in the midst of an early harvest season. Despite the drought, many farmers are enjoying better than expected yields thanks to advances in farming technology.
Bill Simmons, who farms 1,300 acres of corn in Iowa, told Missouri’s WBIA his new drought-resistant seed is “doing really well for us all things considered.” A grain marketing specialist (yup, you read that right) warned, “things look good so far, but the proof is in the yield at the end of the year.” Late last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported drought-related crop losses will be smaller than initially feared.
Peterson tried Rahm Emanuel’s approach, but people didn’t buy the crisis he was selling…and it’s all your fault!