OTHER OPINION: Every American who eats uses the farm bill

By Omaha World Herald

This is as true for city dwellers as it is for those who live on the nation’s farms and ranches. It is true for millionaires and for those on public assistance.
In the absence of a modern farm bill, the economic systems built around agriculture would suffer, from planting decisions and farm equipment sales to food prices at the store, fuel costs and bank lending. A gallon of milk, industry observers say, could quadruple in cost. Is your budget ready for $15 milk?
Such widespread impacts are why it was discouraging to see the House of Representatives defeat a new farm bill last week. And disheartening to see some Democrats burst into applause as it failed.
So a House that once seemed poised to help American farm policy evolve – from a system of direct crop subsidies to one more focused on risk management through crop insurance for losses and price fluctuations – abandoned its post.
While the Senate approved its version of the bill on a bipartisan 66-27 vote this month, rejection of the House bill leaves agriculture in the lurch.
The House failure denies the nation’s farmers the certainty they need to plan for the long term.
Most of the farm bill’s funding – nearly 80 percent – goes to nutrition assistance programs like food stamps, not to farmers, conservation programs or rural economic development.
Commendably, every Midlands senator and congressman supported a new farm bill. As Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, put it: “Passing a farm bill isn’t optional. It’s a necessity … for agriculture producers who need certainty and predictability so they can invest in the future.”
The farm bill is much more than a rural issue. It is a kitchen table issue, an economic development issue, a food-security issue and a driver of international trade. It is in the nation’s interest to pass a stable, predictable, long-term farm bill.