By Taylor Larson
The benefits of the 2014 Farm Bill are clear in Iowa. Farmers, neighbors of farmers, and friends of farmers (that covers everyone in Iowa, right?) rejoice in the economic trickle-down effect of farming revenue and can almost all agree on the benefits of research into alternative energy sources, like ethanol. But, not all places (especially Congress) are like Iowa.
Today, we met with Evan Jurkovich from the House Committee on Agriculture, and after discussing the extent of the Farm Bill, I had one question: How did such a big piece of legislation get bipartisan support in 2014, the year of gridlock?
In short, he told me, it wasn’t easy.
The 2014 USDA Farm Bill had many points of contention; for example, Republicans from urban districts weren’t in favor of crop insurance, and Democrats weren’t in favor of cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). But, Jurkovich explained, legislators in rural areas knew the cost of partisan politics wasn’t worth not passing anything at all.
Just imagine Iowa’s agriculture industry, the backbone of the state economy, without the Farm Bill (cue sheer panic).
Still, passage of the Farm Bill is proof that Congress is working. Legislators are getting things done. But what will it take for a compromise on immigration or healthcare? What makes the Farm Bill more of a necessity that makes compromise so crucial, and how can we get Congress to see that there are other issues of equal (possibly more) importance?
What will the give-and-take look like?
(And, most importantly, where do I sign up to help draft that legislation?)