Views from Kansas: We need a better farm bill
Editor’s Note: Views from Kansas is a regular feature that highlights editorials and other viewpoints from across the state.
With the annual wheat harvest underway, Kansas farmers and their communities are witnessing another mixed bag of results.
Recent heavy rain and hail hindered some producers who still were waiting to begin or were midway through the harvest. The Scott City area was hit with an almost unimaginable downpour earlier last week, recording 8 or more inches of rain in some parts.
Those who were finished statewide expressed various results in yields ranging from 10 to 20 bushels per acre in some parts, on up to 60 bushels in other areas, according to a Kansas Wheat Harvest report. A number of farmers noted the challenge in a late frost and dry weather that stressed the wheat.
As farmers worked, they also had an eye on farm bill activity in the nation’s capital. On Thursday, the U.S. House narrowly passed a bill reauthorizing farm programs, with commodity supports and the crop insurance program largely left intact.
Unfortunately, the Republican-written bill also had notable flaws, to include controversial new work requirements for food-stamp recipients that reportedly would hurt more than 1 million low-income households.
The U.S. Senate’s version doesn’t damage the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in the same way.
All lawmakers must consider the return on investment of a nutrition program that’s helped reduce poverty. SNAP recipients also spend less on health care than poor people who don’t receive the assistance.
Count U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas, chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, among those who oppose major changes to the food-stamp program. Appropriately, the Senate farm bill would not include new work requirements or significantly alter eligibility standards for SNAP.
Unfortunately, the House version also would eliminate the Conservation Stewardship Program, and protect subsidies for large-scale operators, whether or not they live on or work the land.
Smaller farms are the ones that need a break. Hard-working producers and rural communities that depend on their success also need reassurance — especially as they face a sure setback in President Trump’s reckless trade agenda.
Agriculture affects every American in some way. The nation needs relief from the president’s meddling and a better farm bill than what the House produced.
— Originally published in The Garden City Telegram