The Garden City Telegram
11/28/2013
OPINIONS AND COMMENTARY

Ag aid

Producers need to see progress on farm bill.

Thanksgiving delivers a festival of food, as well as a time to celebrate the fruits of local labor.

In an agriculture-driven state that has long helped feed the nation and world, today's Thanksgiving holiday is a fine time to salute the important work of Kansas producers.

The southwest Kansas economy and its future remain tied to an impressive mix of agricultural pursuits, with area producers responsible for an abundance of successful crop and livestock operations.

They've been busy in recent days on various fronts with corn, soybean and sorghum harvests, along with tending to winter wheat, livestock and other responsibilities.

Even in the midst of those chores, most no doubt welcomed snow that fell over the weekend and brought precipitation always needed in a dry region.

One thing all folks involved in the hard work of ag production share is ever present uncertainty, with lofty challenges ranging from weather-related concerns to price volatility.

They can add the uncertain future of a farm bill to the list, as federal lawmakers continue to wrangle over particulars ranging from nutrition to trade, crop insurance to research, and much more.

Much of the disagreement over a new farm bill centers on food stamps — a program added decades ago to generate urban support for the legislation — and farm subsidies.

Unfortunately, producers are left to pay the price for an expired farm bill and subsequent inaction, to include the painful prospect of crop prices being pushed in the wrong direction, threats to crop insurance and disaster aid, and more fallout.

Federal lawmakers who have selfishly turned the farm bill into a political hot potato — including those who shortsightedly label it as government intervention run amok — need to compromise on details of legislation with far-reaching consequences for rural communities.

While it's a complex issue, there has to be a way to address the needs of ag producers while protecting the interests of taxpayers.

The final product will not be perfect. But failing to act, and allowing politics to block progress on a farm bill only adds more unwelcome, unneeded uncertainty in ag-driven Kansas and beyond.