I met Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) at a forum. Congressman Blumenauer and I agreed upon the need of balanced transportation to the point that we ended up turning the forum into a love fest. There was not, as one politician put it years ago, a dime's worth of difference between us.
Outside of transportation, I couldn't find much else with which he and I agreed - that is, until now. The Agriculture Reauthorization Bill of 2007 is up for consideration. The Congressman is sponsoring what he terms the Food & Farm Bill of Rights. There is little to argue with.
First, Americans have the right to a policy free of special interest giveaways. The annual Agriculture Bill long has been a Christmas tree of special interests which have been used as trading posts. The supporters of dairy subsidies scratch the backs of the supporters of wheat subsidies and vice-versa.
Second, American taxpayers have a right to a fiscally responsible policy. Does any reader of this Commentary disagree?
Third, Americans have a right to a policy which serves all farmers. You mean we don't have a policy to benefit Archer Daniels Midland?
Fourth, Americans have a right to a safe and healthful food supply. Calling China! How do we explain poisoned toothpaste?
Fifth, American children have a right to good nutrition. I don't believe that this is a governmental responsibility. I think parents and guardians ought to exercise this right.
Sixth, Americans have a right to local supplies of fresh food. Unfortunately, not all local areas have the ability to supply fresh food.
Seventh, Americans have a right to a policy which promotes energy independence. Each Administration since that of President Gerald R. Ford has claimed it had such a policy, yet each policy has been worse than its predecessor.
Eighth, Americans have the right to a policy which protects the environment.
Ninth, Americans have a right to preserve farmland from urban sprawl. I believe in the family farm and as our NEXT CONSERVATISM essays suggest, the Amish have demonstrated that a family farm can be economical. Often the sprawl which results from the sale of farmland results in nothing but traffic delays. On the other hand, we must be careful not to deprive owners of their right to dispose of private property.
Tenth, Americans have a right to a policy that fosters sustainable farming practices. I am not sure what the definition of sustainable farming practices is. If it is what I think it is perhaps we agree.
I agree with more than half of the Blumenauer Farm Bill. It could be more, depending upon definitions. That means we should form a left-right coalition when we approach the current Agriculture Reauthorization Bill. For example, should we use the funds, maybe one billion dollars, to teach school kids to like vegetables? We may as well throw away the money. At the same time high schools all over the nation are discontinuing gyms and athletic programs. Why not take that one billion and distribute it to schools to continue gyms and athletic programs?
In any case, clearly we can agree with Congressman Blumenauer as to many of these items. We ought to refashion the Agriculture Reauthorization Bill. The Congressman and I don't agree on many things but where we do we ought to cooperate. Many conservatives do not desire to work with Democrats unless they agree all of the time.
In our case, we are willing to work with anyone unless by doing so we compromise national security. Working on the Agriculture Bill would hardly do that.