It’s farm bill time in the Senate, with the draft bill out of committee, debate open, and hundreds of amendments pouring in, all lined up just in time beat the June 30 deadline! The way they used to resolve all of these competing amendments and regional interests and endless lobbyist demands in the end was pretty simple — pay everyone off, and then pay them off again. But this time it’s an election year, the Senate is broken beyond repair, Rand Paul exists, and everyone thinks a few perfunctory budget cuts will make the Senate look like a responsible custodian of the nation’s well-being. What we’re getting around to is that there may be some grandstanding — yes, we went there — in the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body over the next couple of weeks. Let’s check out but a smattering of the ~200 amendments that are very important to American agriculture and have a reasonable chance of passing instead of just wasting everyone’s time!
On the one hand, you have a bipartisan group of senators from farm states who understand how vital this bill is to them and would prefer to put the usual dumb games aside and cap voting to a reasonable number of amendments, to prevent the whole thing from either failing or taking the “10 years worth of temporary extensions that no one likes” option that our upper chamber has come to master. On the other hand, you have senators who see what we might call “opportunities.”
- John McCain’s farm bill amendment “would require the administration to report by August on the full effects of the $500 billion in automatic defense cuts slated to take effect starting next year.”
- Jim DeMint’s farm bill amendment “would repeal the Dodd-Frank financial reform law.”
- Tom Coburn’s farm bill amendment says that “the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Market Access Program, heavily used by the San Francisco-based Wine Institute and other California farm organizations promoting overseas sales, couldn’t pay for ‘wine tastings’ or ‘reality TV shows.’”
- Rand Paul’s farm bill amendment “would cut off aid to Pakistan.”
- Rand Paul’s farm bill amendment “keeps the Department of Agriculture from carrying firearms in rural areas.”
- Rand Paul’s farm bill amendment “repeals the federal food stamp program” and replaces it with small block grants to the states, which the states can then replace with large tax cuts.
There is also the huge question of EPA
flyovers that monitor the growth of toxic manure pools that violate environmental regulations and kill everyone death drones taking naughty pix of the hardworkin’ family farmer and his small children while they’re naked. Rand Paul is said to be concerned.