Lawmakers Threaten to Take Away Middle Class Health Care Insurance, Putting Coverage for Pre-Existing Conditions and Rural Hospitals at Risk

Not satisfied with imposing policies that raised the cost of health care for the middle class during the past two years, Republicans are now bent on taking insurance away from Americans with pre-existing health conditions, including children, seniors and veterans.

The Trump administration this month implemented rules that give insurance companies a wide berth to refuse to provide coverage for sick Americans, allowing them to discriminate against our families, friends and neighbors. That move by Trump comes after Republican House members and senators voted dozens of times since 2011 for legislation that would end coverage for pre-existing conditions.

Now we find that Republicans are so scared of their record of trying to take health care away from Middle Class Americans that about three dozen GOP lawmakers were caught lying about their votes that would have eliminated coverage for pre-existing conditions.

The Trump-McConnell-Ryan Troika have intentionally imposed policies successfully aimed at raising the cost of health insurance to try to flame opposition to the Affordable Care Act.

At least 4 million Americans have lost health care coverage since Trump and the Republicans gained control of the White House and Congress, according to one estimate. That trend emerged under Trump after about 20 million Americans were able during the previous administration to get health care coverage for the first time. That’s a stark difference.

It’s particularly distressing news for Rural Americans, who already have a hard enough time trying to find places to go to get treated. Dozens of rural hospitals have closed in recent years, with hundreds more at risk of shuttering their doors. Our families, friends and neighbors shouldn’t have to drive dozens of miles to get to an emergency room, or to visit hospitalized loved ones. It’s become a Rural Health hazard.

The only way for middle class Americans to protect their health care is to vote to ensure our farmers, families, friends, and neighbors have the quality of life they deserve. The Rural Economy depends on Americans to choose wisely.

GOP Leaders: We Gave Richest Americans and Corporations Big Tax Cut; Now We Want to Rip the American Safety Net Off the Middle Class Backs

Republicans have been boasting how they plan to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid for the majority of Americans if they are able to hold onto control of both chambers of Congress next week.

It’s incredible how out of touch the GOP leadership is with the American people.

Polls have long shown that voters don’t want the American Safety Net gutted, but a new survey shows that most Americans would rather see revenue raised to deal with the deficit rather than make cuts to Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid. That same poll further demonstrates that even most Republicans oppose slashing the American Safety Net to make up for the deficit triggered by the Republican’s $1.5 trillion tax giveaway to corporations and the wealthiest Americans.

One would think that after handing Wall Street and the richest Americans more than a trillion dollars the Republicans would want to take care of the middle class by expanding programs like Medicaid to protect vulnerable seniors, veterans and active duty families, and providing Medicare benefits for more American workers and their families, too.

No chance.

Leading the cowardly plan to tear the American Safety Net off the backs of Americans from every part of the country are House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). Their puppet master Trump says he doesn’t want to mess with the American Safety Net programs we depend on, but what is his word worth? He lies so often that he doesn’t even know when he’s telling the truth anymore.

The best example of a Republican-spun whopper had to be McConnell, Ryan and Trump claiming their tax cuts for billionaires and corporations would stimulate growth and pay for itself. Instead, the tax cuts are responsible for a shortfall in revenue and have exploded the federal budget deficit by almost $1 trillion in a single year.

“I not only don’t think it will increase the deficit, I think it will be beyond revenue-neutral,” McConnell boasted. “In other words, I think it will produce more than enough to fill that gap.”

What a bunch of cow puck that promise of revenue growth turned out to be.

The only way for Americans to protect the federal benefits they have worked for and paid into is to vote Tuesday for a better deal. The Rural Economy depends on the American Safety Net to ensure our farmers, families, friends and neighbors have the quality of life they deserve. The Rural Economy depends on Americans to choose wisely.

Fate of Industrial Hemp Measure is Up in the Air Without a Farm Bill

There are so many reasons why the House Republicans need to end their obstructionism and pass the Senate Farm Bill, but here’s one that should inspire them to do their jobs: by 2022 the industrial hemp industry should be worth about $3 billion a year, and that means a new revenue stream for Washington.

Held hostage by House GOP lawmakers, the Senate Farm Bill would legalize industrial hemp used to produce food, clothing, building materials, health and beauty products, dietary supplements, and in what could become the biggest growth area, medicine.

The key ingredient in hemp is cannabidiol, or CBD, which is legal in more than half the states but is illegal under federal law as a Schedule I drug. It’s been illegal for nearly 50 years because of some very ignorant federal lawmakers who refused to do their homework.

Just to be clear, hemp isn’t pot, and it doesn’t get you high. It’s a plant that can create a lot of jobs and give Family Farmers an alternative cash crop at a time when they are being left behind by the Trump Trade War and historically low commodities prices.

Admittedly, a lot of cannabis industry business owners and investment advisors have been celebrating a bit prematurely. One West Coast hemp CBD distributor we spoke to bragged of deep ties to pro-hemp Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and was almost arrogant in his confidence that industrial hemp legalization was a slam-dunk. We politely suggested he not pop the cork on the champagne until there is actually something to celebrate.

Seasoned and thoughtful businesses, however, like Dr. Bronner’s have been cautiously optimistic that it can at least see light at the end of the tunnel on hemp legalization, but it has smartly not reduced its steady lobbying and educational campaign. It’s kept the pressure on to win final passage. That’s the difference between a longstanding established and experienced company like Dr. Bronner’s and the cannabis startups ignorant to the reality of how hard it is to navigate Washington in order to take a commodity like industrial hemp from the black market to the open market.

The cannabis trade press also has been overly giddy about the McConnell industrial hemp measure, but in many ways that’s another dose of the irrational exuberance that permeates the marijuana media (which for more than two years has wrongly predicted everything from Congress allowing banks to accept industry money without fear of federal reprisal, to lawmakers outright legalizing the plant. Those things will happen, but not on the guesswork timetables that have come and gone).

Most of the reporting on the industrial hemp measure has been shallow and reliant on the word of a fledgling and mostly ineffective cannabis lobby in Washington. One example is the scant reporting on how McConnell really needed to attach the hemp measure to another piece of legislation (like its present home in the Farm Bill) because he doesn’t have enough Republican votes necessary to pass the measure as a stand-alone bill.

Another story line missed (or ignored) by the industry press is whether the House would even agree to the Senate hemp measure in a still-to-be-written final version of the Farm Bill. The trade press ignores that House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (R-TX) could even kill the McConnell hemp measure in the House in the dark of night. No lawmaker in America has done more to block any kind of cannabis legislation than Sessions, a prohibitionist whose wit doesn’t measure up to his powerful job of deciding what makes it to the House floor for a vote, and what doesn’t.

We don’t mean to pick on the cannabis media. It provides an important window into a legalization movement almost wholly ignored by the mainstream media. It’s just that willing legislation to pass by simply saying it will is not the same thing as confirming legislation will pass with authoritative sourcing. It’s Ouija board journalism.

We’re confident that Family Farmers will eventually get a chance to plant and harvest the cash crop, but then they face two more hurdles they will face forever: surviving a new federal regulatory system that will make a lot of lawyers rich in order to abide by the rules; and factory farms owned by Big Ag that put profits over Family Farmers. When the time comes, we’ll fight those fights for Family Farmers.

Congress Will Let Farm Bill Expire Without a Replacement

Barring a miracle, the Republican-led Congress will do the unthinkable, leaving farmers hanging and exposed to economic hardship when the Farm Bill expires at the end of the federal fiscal year (Sunday, Sept. 30).

The House Republican leadership is holding farmers hostage by refusing to budge over their demands that the Farm Bill include draconian measures for nutrition programs important to children, seniors, veterans and the disabled. The House passed its Machiavellian Farm Bill by two votes on a party line vote. The Senate passed a more compassionate version of the Farm Bill with an overwhelming bipartisan majority.

“If we brought the Senate version to the House floor today, it would pass,” Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) told the Greenfield (Ma.) Recorder. “But (House) Speaker (Paul) Ryan won’t allow it. This is red meat for some Republicans, a chance to beat up on poor people.”

The first casualty actually won’t be the poor, but rather it will be the Rural Economy in the heart of Trump Country. Programs like the Foreign Market Development initiative, which seeks out overseas buyers for American agriculture, products and services will be left without a budget, according to Politico’s Morning Agriculture report.

Amid Trump’s trade war that is crippling Rural America, commodity prices could go down, and price supports and consumer prices could rise in one of the greediest and inexplicable scenarios in the U.S. economy.

“Farmers are in limbo—not knowing if the risk management programs they need to qualify for operating loans will be there,” stated American Farm Bureau Federation President Vincent “Zippy” Duvall, a poultry, cattle and hay producer from Greene County, Georgia.

If the Farm Bill is not passed after a few days or weeks at the most, or the current Farm Bill of 2014 is not is not extended by Congress in the interim, then the mother of all farming and budgetary nightmares occurs when the ag budget reverts to a 1949 law. Successful Farming magazine describes that regression as “the bogeyman of Farm Bills” because it “would boost farm subsidy rates to unaffordable rates, reintroduce planting controls for some crops, and eliminate support for soybeans.”

“The sky won’t fall right away. The residual effects of programs that have been in place until now will keep working for a little while” the AFBF’s Duvall said. “But time will run out. And the longer it takes to get the new farm bill passed, the greater the harm to confidence in our farm economy. The proverbial runway is short—weeks at best.”

Keep in mind the lame duck Speaker Ryan and his right wing cabal blew up the deficit with their $1.5 trillion billionaire and corporate tax cut giveway, but now they want to create undue risks with the livelihood of Family Farmers and take food out of the mouths of children, seniors, veterans and physically and mentally challenged Americans.

The expiration of the Farm Bill without at least a temporary extension is an unnecessary betrayal to Family Farmers. For months, three of the so-called big four negotiators — Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS), Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Rep. Collin Peterson (D-ND) — have said they would pass a new Farm Bill by the deadline. The fourth negotiator, House Agriculture Chairman Michael Conaway (R-TX) has had little to say worth listening to, defining his role early on as that of Ryan’s water boy, (or should we say milk maid) in the legislative process.

“Now the question is whether Congress will finish the bill before the election or during a lame-duck session, or if it will have to start over next year, when Democrats appear likely to be in charge of the House and maybe the Senate,” wrote agriculture policy expert Jerry Hagstrom in National Journal.

Farm Bill On Life Support; House Extremists Spurn Family Farmers

There are only about a half-dozen days left on the legislative calendar before the current Farm Bill expires on Sept. 30. Talks are at an impasse.

Chances are you haven’t heard much, if anything, about the bill’s current state of play. That’s because the mainstream media isn’t covering the Farm Bill’s progress the way it has in the past. It’s not the media’s fault. Their ranks are declining, and there just aren’t as many beat reporters in Washington as there were 10 years ago. As important as it is, the Farm Bill just can’t compete with the click bait of Trump’s outlandish Tweet of the moment; a potentially deadly hurricane; or the horse race intensity of the midterm elections. For example, about 350 Family Farmers from around the country descended on the Capitol this week to lobby for the Farm Bill, but good luck finding a mention of them anywhere in the news media.

House Republicans bent on burning a hole in the American Safety Net refuse to budge in talks aimed at hammering out a compromise Farm Bill, even if that means hurting a core part of their base voters: Working Farmers. Fortunately, the sane bipartisan Senate negotiators will have none of it, so the more they dig their heals in, the more likely it is that Congress will have to pass a continuing resolution to extend the Farm Bill budget currently on the books. That is a much better outcome than passing the misery-fueled House GOP version, for sure.

We’ve said this before, but it’s worth repeating:

“Just like the $1.5 trillion tax cut that primarily helps corporations and billionaires, the GOP House Farm Bill is a gift to “Big Ag,” favoring industrial farming over Family Farmers and the Locally Grown Movement. The best chance we have for a fair Farm Bill remains in the Senate, where reaching the 60 votes needed for passage won’t allow for the draconian legislation that House Republicans have crafted.”

If the far right lawmakers really wanted to be deficit hawks, they never would have passed the tax cuts that forgot the middle class and Rural Americans, in particular. Now those same lawmakers spread a Gospel of Hate that threatens the health of children, senior citizens, veterans, active military, the disabled, and working — working — poor.

“The House version of the Farm Bill is a devastating move away from what was at least talk about changing market strategies as the Farm-to-Fork industry made strides,” said Rural Votes Executive Director Deb Kozikowski. “The idea of Americans eating healthier thanks to reliable sharing of information on good nutrition was taking hold. Calorie counts on menus didn’t just happen, nor did identifying the country of origin on food packaging.”

Kozikowski added, “Now we see an agenda coming out of the extremist wing of Congress poisoning the Farm Bill. Starting with a backslide on pollutants and other known health related hazard practices, who knows where we’ll end up.”

Farmers Union to Host 350 Family Farmers and Ranchers for DC Fly-In

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 7, 2018
Contact: Andrew Jerome, 202.314.3106
Farmers Union to Host 350 Family Farmers for Fly-In
Advocates Will Hear from Secretary Perdue, Top USDA Officials, Members of Congress
WASHINGTON – Amidst an historic decline in net farm income and added disruptions in agricultural trade and biofuel markets, National Farmers Union (NFU) will host 350 family farmers and ranchers in Washington, D.C., next week to meet face-to-face with top Trump administration officials and members of Congress as they decide on a number of legislative and regulatory priorities for farm country.
The advocates will travel from across the country to the nation’s capital to push for passage of a farm bill that supports family agriculture, strong protections from international trade market disruptions, and expansion of the American grown biofuel market. The NFU Fly-In Talking Points package can be found here.
NFU will kick off the Fly-In on the morning of Wednesday, September 12, with a briefing at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), where participants will hear from U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and other top officials at USDA and the office of the U.S. Trade Representative. Following that, the Farmers Union members will make their way over to Capitol Hill for a Farm Bill Forum, where they will engage with members of Congress on legislative priorities.
On Thursday and Friday, Fly-In participants will visit all 535 congressional offices to meet with members of Congress and congressional staff to deliver their personal stories as to how federal level policies impact their families and communities. NFU will also honor congressional champions for family agriculture with the organization’s Golden Triangle Award.
Members of the press who are interested in attending the Wednesday events—the USDA Briefing and/or the Farm Bill Forum—must RSVP to Andrew Jerome at ajerome@nfudc.org by 5 p.m. Eastern on Monday, September 10.
WHAT:
USDA Briefing – NFU Fall Legislative Fly-In
WHERE:
Jefferson Auditorium, USDA 5th Wing
1400 Independence Ave. SW
Washington, DC 20228
WHEN:
8:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. Eastern
CONFIRMED SPEAKERS (in anticipated speaking order):
Sonny Perdue, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture
Gregory Ibach, Under Secretary, Marketing and Regulatory Programs,
U.S. Department of Agriculture
Jamie Clover Adams, Chief of Staff, Farm Production and Conservation,
U.S. Department of Agriculture
Gregg Doud, Chief Agriculture Negotiator, U.S. Trade Representative
Anne Hazlett, Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development,
U.S. Department of Agriculture
WHAT:
Farm Bill Forum – NFU Fall Legislative Fly-In
WHERE:
Senate Dirksen Office Building, Room 106
50 Constitution Ave NE
Washington, DC 20002
WHEN:
1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Eastern
CONFIRMED SPEAKERS (in anticipated speaking order):
U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp, North Dakota
U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly, Indiana
U.S. Senator Tina Smith, Minnesota
U.S. Senator John Hoeven, North Dakota
U.S. Senator Charles Grassley, Iowa
U.S. Representative Jim McGovern, Massachusetts
U.S. Senator Michael Bennet, Colorado
U.S. Representative Chellie Pingree, Maine

Tell Farm Bill Conferees to Support Strong Legislation

With the September 30 deadline looming, Congress is hurrying to finish the farm bill. The farm bill conference committee is slated to convene on September 5. During that meeting and subsequent meetings, 56 conferees from both parties and chambers of Congress will work to reconcile the differences between the House and Senate versions of the legislation.
Congressional agricultural leadership, known as the “big four,” have been meeting in anticipation of the conference process. The group is comprised of Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts and ranking member Debbie Stabenow, as well as House Agriculture Chairman Mike Conaway and ranking member Collin Peterson.
Before the conference committee drafts a new bill and votes on it, they need to hear from their constituents that the farm bill is important to them. Please consider taking action by contacting conferees today to tell them to support a stronger farm bill. You can find a draft script and a list of conferees here.
Reposted with permission from NFU E-News, Issue 385. Published August 31, 2018. Photo Credit: NFU

China Again Hits Rural America in Retaliation for Trump’s Trade War

Update 2 (July 5, 2018): China says it hopes Trump will rethink his trade war before it kicks off at 12:01 a.m. July 6, but with his $34 billion in tariffs likely to take effect Beijing is ready to strike back dollar-for-dollar.

Rural America will feel nearly the full force of China’s retaliatory action. “Beijing is targeting soybeans, corn, wheat, rice, sorghum, beef, pork, poultry, fish, diary products, nuts and vegetables, and autos in its first round of counter measures,” Bloomberg News reported.

China is signaling it’s preparing to go tit-for-tat with Trump for the long haul. As a result of the trade war, Chinese importers are already buying soy from growers in other countries like Brazil. China is canceling orders for 1.14 million tons of soy produced in the U.S. that had been scheduled to be shipped by the end-August

UPDATE 1 (June 19, 2018): The White House escalated its trade war with China by threatening late Monday to put tariffs on another $200 billion on Chinese goods, deepening concerns from Rural Main Street to Wall Street that Trump’s policy will cripple American businesses. China immediately said it would not cave to “extreme pressure and blackmailing” and would retaliate with equal tariffs on $200 billion in U.S. goods.

China has strategically hit back at Trump by targeting products made in The Heartland, where Trump has his strongest base of support. farmers, growers and ranchers are among the hardest hit in Trump’s trade war.

There was a quiet sigh of relief Friday in U.S. tech communities on the East and West Coasts when China spared them painful retaliation for Trump’s tariffs on Chinese technology. Instead of a direct eye-for-an-eye poke, Beijing hit back at the latest salvo in the Trump trade war with a body blow to the breadbasket, striking at products primarily harvested and made in the American Heartland.

Welcome to Trump’s trade war – a high stakes economic war game in which China finds the best way to retaliate is by attacking the Rural Economy in the epicenter of Trump Country. Farmers, growers, ranchers, fishermen, coal miners, automakers, and oilfield workers all made China’s latest hit list.

In his latest move, Trump hit Chinese aerospace, automobiles, machinery and robotics industries with tariffs. China is answering with $34 billion in tariffs on U.S. agriculture and aquaculture, including beef, corn, cotton, lobster, orange juice, pork, poultry, and soybeans, along with automobiles and whiskey. Another round of Chinese tariffs on U.S. products will target coal, crude oil, gasoline and medical equipment.

The hit lists from the two respective countries are an escalation of global economic warfare. This latest round of trade shenanigans follows Trump announcing tariffs in April on steel and aluminum. China struck back at that time with tariffs on fruit, nuts, pork, and wine.

Unruly trade agreements have become a problem for U.S. communities and workers, but trade imbalances are really just the result of American companies and consumers getting the most bang for their buck. That’s how the game is played in the marketplace and that’s how it’s taught in the finest American business schools. Perhaps Trump was not in class the day they taught capitalism at Wharton, his famous but embarrassed alma mater?

The hard truth is the Trump administration, Wall Street and most corporate boardrooms have no “Buy American” policies. Alas, the locally grown family farmers movement and labor organizations are pretty much going it alone with the Buy American campaign.

After all the bluster and grandstanding are over, negotiations and deal-making are the only real solutions to fixing lousy trade deals. Trump needs to patch up the holes, not blow up the whole system with a trade war that hurts American consumers, families, and businesses. Unfortunately, scorched earth policy is the Trump model. We know that from experience. Here are three stark examples of the Trump implosion strategy:

Trump is the man without a plan. We can’t lose sight of how it was Trump who picked the fights with China, Europe and Canada, and yet there is no reason to believe he has a plan to protect the Rural Economy from being ravaged in his trade wars. Instead, all he has for us is another slogan: “Trade wars are easy to win.” Well if trade wars are easy to win, as Trump has boasted, then why don’t countries do it all the time? And why are Republicans lining up to tell Trump to back off?

(updated)

Senate Puts Up a ‘Softer’ Farm Bill, But There is Still a Big Fight Ahead

UPDATE 2: The stage is set for showdown between the House and Senate over the direction of the Farm Bill and whether Congress will maintain the longstanding tradition of protecting our Family Farmers, children, seniors, veterans and active duty families that are covered by its American Safety Net.

In an all-too-rare demonstration of bipartisanship, the Senate voted 86 to 11 Thursday night for a bill that encompasses the economic necessities of farmers, the nutritional needs of American families and the conservationist practices that protect our food supply, precious lands and waterways.

The Senate version is far cry from the Machiavellian legislation passed in the House. We should expect a bitter fight between the bipartisan coalition in the Senate and the hard line Republicans in the House, who barely were able to pass their bill on a 213 to 211 vote.

Few changes were made to the original version of the bill hammered out by Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) and ranking Democrat on the panel, Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan.

UPDATE 1: The Senate Agriculture Committee voted 20-1 in favor of the Farm Bill last week, adding only a few changes to the legislation. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) was the lone no vote, arguing the bill includes measures that provide corporate welfare for non-farmers (his measure succeeded in getting added before the final vote). He hopes to get his changes into the bill before the final Senate vote.

The House and Senate remain miles apart on approach, so we expect a bumpy ride when the two chambers ultimately plow through negotiations toward a final Farm Bill they will send to Trump for his signature.

Senators are being praised for their version of the Farm Bill, which protects Family Farmers, nutrition and farm-to-fork programs.

Although “softer” than the mean-spirited House version, congressional insiders still believe that the Senate could produce a flawed piece of legislation when the committee and full Senate finalize the legislation. The Senate Agriculture Committee plans to tinker with its bill starting this week and hopes to have vote by the full Senate before the Fourth of July.

“The Senate’s draft text of the 2018 Farm Bill makes significant improvements over the current version of the House bill,” National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson said in a statement. “Nonetheless, we will encourage the Senate to make important improvements to the farm safety net and to programs that enhance long-term sustainability and access to markets for family farmers and ranchers.”

We should also anticipate House hardliners and the White House to keep the pressure on to maintain the forced-work provision when both chambers in Congress negotiate a final bill. Trump has indicated he wants a forced work program in any bill he will sign into law.

The group Farm Futures has created a point-by-point comparison of the Senate and House versions of the Farm Bill. The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition also looked at the differences in the House and Senate bills.

Meanwhile, after mending an internal party rift that led to the initial defeat of the House bill, a now-united GOP plans to re-vote on its flawed Farm Bill on or around June 22, 2018. Unless pressured to flip their vote, the House will pass that bill.

The House GOP bill is an $867 billion package that sets spending for the next 10 years. Despite rising cost of living, it’s $90 billion less than the enacted 2014 Farm Bill, according to the Congressional Budget Office analysis. More than 10 million Americans over the age of 50 currently get help buying groceries thanks to the Farm Bill, as do 23,000 active duty military households and 1.5 million veterans and their families.

Even before we know the full extent of the harm that would be done by a forced work program, estimates are more than 2 million Americans will have food taken from their tables, and another quarter of a million children will lose their school lunches thanks to the House Farm Bill. About 75% of the Farm Bill funds nutrition and farm-to-fork programs.

(Updated)

Time to Step Up to Protect Children, Family Farmers, Seniors, Veterans, Armed Forces and Farmers Markets from Cruel, Destructive Farm Bill

We’re nearing the homestretch now in the effort to ensure Congress passes a Farm Bill that protects children, Family Farmers, seniors, veterans, and active duty military personnel. Congress must be pressured to preserve shared federal, state and local authority over safe food, land and water resources, as well.

The House GOP bill is an $867 billion package that sets spending for the next 10 years. Despite rising cost of living, it’s $90 billion less than the enacted 2014 Farm Bill, according to the Congressional Budget Office analysis.

Just like the $1.5 trillion tax cut that primarily helps corporations and billionaires, the GOP House Farm Bill is a gift to “Big Ag,” favoring industrial farming over Family Farmers and the Locally Grown Movement. The best chance we have for a fair Farm Bill remains in the Senate, where reaching the 60 votes needed for passage won’t allow for the draconian legislation that House Republicans have crafted.

Gutting a System that Ensures Safe, Plentiful Food and Agriculture Resources

House Republicans seem to reject the idea that safe and plentiful food production in the U.S. depends on smart local policies that set global standards. The House GOP bill would reverse the progress we’ve made toward protecting resources needed to ensure prosperous and safe agriculture.

Land, water, and wildlife vital to the Rural Economy all take a hit under the shorted House bill. The House GOP Farm Bill wipes out $150 million mandatory funding for rural development programs, including drinking water and wastewater infrastructure improvements.

Local authority over agricultural production and manufacturing standards also are eliminated under the House GOP farm Bill if similar products are produced elsewhere under less stringent standards. One Republican amendment added to the House Farm Bill would eliminate thousands of state and local laws, including food safety and labeling regulations. So much for all the promises of protecting states rights.

Wiping Out Initiatives that Promote Family Farming and the Rural Economy

The House Farm Bill cuts funding for first-time farmers by eliminating the Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance program and Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion program by providing no mandatory funding. Many experts in the field consider those programs a gateway for expanding women-run farms and ranches. The House GOP Bill also falls short of protecting and promoting certified organic farming, as well.

In addition, the House Republican legislation all but turns out the lights on the Rural Energy for America program, even as sustainable energy programs are creating jobs and revenue for Rural America.

There is even a not-so-subtle attempt to undermine participation in the Affordable Care Act by offering a grossly underfunded program that would allow the USDA to create healthcare associations. These associations would mostly require insurers to pay for minimal healthcare coverage, forcing farmers and rural families to pay more out of pocket. While we’re left asking the question, “What does the USDA know about health insurance,” the GOP scheme would be taking resources out of the existing healthcare pools. Everybody – Rural, Urban and Suburban Americans – all would end up paying more for healthcare if this program were to run its course.

Taking Food Out of Mouths of Children, Disabled, Seniors, and Veterans; and Forced Work-to-Eat Programs

Millions of Americans will go hungry as a result of the House GOP Farm bill. Even before we consider the GOP’s forced work program included in the House bill, a change in eligibility requirements means more than 2 million Americans will have food taken from their tables, and another quarter of a million children will lose their school lunches. About 75% of the Farm Bill funds nutrition programs.

When we consider the forced work programs in the GOP Farm Bill it’s clear they will cause unnecessary pain for our most valued citizens, including the elderly, veterans and physically challenged Americans. More than 10 million Americans over the age of 50 currently get help buying groceries thanks to the Farm Bill, as do about  23,000 active duty military personnel and 1.5 million veterans and their families. Two-thirds of physically challenged Americans so far are unable to join the workforce. How can they eat under the Republican forced work program?

It’s clear the GOP architects of this scheme are not concerned with solving the problem for the working poor in America. If they were serious about patching the gaping hole in the American Safety Net they would include provisions to raise the minimum wage and invest in childcare, affordable healthcare, and practical skills training. Instead, they offer a cheap way to make headlines aimed at appeasing their followers and a few deep-pocketed oligarchs who hide behind a distorted libertarian facade.

(Updated with active duty statistics)