We are four days beyond the expiration to the Farm Bill. Rather than working to resolve the dispute between the House and Senate and provide certainty to family farmers facing low commodity prices, members of the House are out campaigning for the midterm. To politicians, the election is more important than their farm constituents. It is their own livelihood above farmers’. For a clear example, look no further than Congressman Kevin Cramer.
A brief refresher on how we got to an expired farm bill. First, Congress failed to pass the Farm Bill because ideological positions were inserted into the historically non-controversial bill. A couple of weeks later, Congress reconsidered and narrowly passed its version riddled with issues. It passed by two votes. Then, they packed the conference committee with 47 members. Why? Because it’s an election year and everyone wants to put it in a political advertisement. An election year bailout for politicians. Now, the bill is stalled and Congress left town.
As the Farm Bill conference committee stalled because of the ideological position of the House and the deadline approached, House members convinced their leadership to recess. They needed to campaign. Meanwhile, 39 programs go unauthorized or inactive. Politicians say they’ll take it up after the election, but there is no guarantee the lame duck Congress will accomplish anything.
Renewal of the Farm Bill was the item Congress had complete control over to provide some certainty to the agriculture sector. They failed. Couple this with a $12 billion Presidential bailout that falls short of offsetting trade war impacts and depletion of market access because of that same trade war and it is no wonder family farmers are uneasy. These points were raised by North Dakota farmers at Big Iron in West Fargo a few short weeks ago. Heidi Heitkamp heard them directly from ag producers. Kevin Cramer dodged the debate and instead attended his second fundraiser in Texas.
Kevin Cramer has been quick to say family farmers don’t have“a very high pain threshold.” Yet, when it comes to his livelihood as a politician, what “pain” has Cramer felt over the years? During the 2013 government shutdown, he refused to give up his taxpayer-funded salary while Heitkamp and Hoeven both donated their’s to charity. That shutdown lasted 16 days. Farmers have no idea how long this trade war will last. Now, Cramer refuses to get the job done and provide some form of certainty for farmers because he’d rather be out campaigning for what he hopes is his next taxpayer-funded job. The question is will family farmers reward him in November?