GOP 2018 Farm Bill Doesn’t Spare Rural Americans Pain and Anguish; Hurts Our Farmers, Ranchers, Veterans, Seniors, Mothers, Retailers

It seems the Republicans just can’t help hurting their base voters. This time it’s the House GOP’s 2018 Farm Bill that is shaping up to be another affront to Rural America.

The Farm Bill shortchanges farmers and ranchers and doesn’t make up for the money and jobs that will be lost to U.S. growers and producers as a result of Trump’s trade war with China. The drastic cuts in this abomination of a bill will also hurt Rural veterans, senior citizens, retailers, and the most vulnerable among us.

Since net farm income has dropped about 50 percent in the last four years, now is the time to protect Rural Americans, and not cause them more pain.

These cuts come even though the Congressional Budget Office, the official referee that scores the impact of legislation, concluded that the Farm Bill adds minimal government spending and would not blow up the federal deficit. We’ll say it again: the biggest debt-creating bill remains the $1.5 trillion tax cut mainly for corporations and billionaires.

The Farm Bill is just the latest secret legislation drafted behind closed doors by the Republicans. That’s always a red flag for Americans. Let’s consider some of the state, local and regional agriculture programs it eliminates or reduces in scope:

  • Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion program
  • Value-Added Producer Grants
  • Organic Certification Cost Share Program
  • National School Lunch Program
  • Various pesticide protection and conservation programs

“I’ve always been optimistic about the Farm Bill. I felt very fortunate to work on the last farm bill with colleagues on both sides of the aisle, supporting programs that I believe make a difference. As legislation goes, the Farm Bill has a track record of breaking down party lines and cultivating collaboration,” Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME) wrote for the site Civil Eats.

“But now, the Farm Bill has become the latest partisan battle, following in the steps of healthcare and tax reform. The 641-page Farm Bill draft was written by Republicans behind closed doors, and they’re hoping it passes quickly before anyone even has time to read it. The draft was released last Thursday and will be marked up by the House Agriculture Committee today, less than a week later,” Pingree added.

It’s no surprise the worst cuts will come to the farm-to-fork Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, better known as SNAP. The Republicans would rather give billionaires and corporations and their shareholders a $1.5 trillion tax boondoggle than take care of Rural States that depend on SNAP the most.

Although Republicans perpetuate a myth that SNAP mostly serves people they stereotype as urban “welfare queens,” government statistics shows Rural Counties rely on the program more than Americans in cities. Furthermore, “39.8% of SNAP participants are white, 25.5% are African-American, 10.9% are Hispanic, 2.4% are Asian, and 1% are Native American,” the government data demonstrates. “In total, 76% of SNAP benefits go towards households with children, 11.9% go to households with disabled persons, and 10% go to households with senior citizens,” the same data indicates. In addition, 1.5 million veterans live in households that get SNAP assistance.

Why would House Agriculture Chairman Mike Conaway (R-TX) intentionally increase the rate of hunger in America? It’s just cruel and unnecessary. Let’s tell Conaway and Congress to protect Rural America and send this partisan, mean-spirited bill to the swill bucket where it belongs.

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