Culture

Farm Bill: Farmers Are Losing Their Clout

(Photo of Luke Messer at Huntington Co 4H Fair taken by J Ryan Wall)

The dropping of the Farm Bill by Congress before going to recess shows farming is losing its power in Washington. Even though Luke Messer (R) blamed the dying bill on drug addicted parents who receive food stamps (research shows a smaller percent of food stamp users purchase drugs as compared to the general population), it appears that farm lobby groups are losing their control.

We believe the Global Food Movement is behind this and we can expect more changes coming in Washington as more states want GMO labeling and groups are publicizing the negative effects of insecticides used in and on the crops. Reports in Canada show over 30 million bees have died to insecticide laden crops while most of Europe has either banned or stopped allowing the usage of the insecticide until further studies are complete.

Last month in Germany, Prince Charles slammed Big Food and said the whole system needs renewed with more local and sustainable efforts put into place. Most of Europe still limits, and even forbids, much of the farming practices owned by Monsanto primarily because the people refuse to accept it. Imagine that, a government which actually listens to the will of the people instead of forcing industry onto them.

According to Luke Messer’s op-ed piece in the StarPress, he laments about all the problems with the Farm Bill. According to Messer:

Price supports (subsidies) inflate the prices of some consumer goods; payments are made to people not actually farming; outdated and duplicative programs waste money that could be put to better use; rules regarding disaster assistance are too complicated, and they fail to provide enough certainty about whether and what return farmers will receive when they reinvest any profits in the family business.

Since Mr. Messer has a large constituency of farmers in his district, he was allowed to offer his letter more as an apology to those in his district, but he made no promises. However, farmers are losing their ardent supporters in congress. Furthermore, the farming sectors have diverged into varying interests taking hard line stances toward the best farming practices.

Farming now accounts for about 1 percent of gross national product, down from a high of about 9 percent in 1950. Americans have moved to the cities and suburbs, farmers and lawmakers representing districts largely dependent on agriculture have seen their political muscle steadily decline.  Only 2.5 percent of the total work force are now employed in farming.

The farm industry is fractured. We have several sources in Indiana who are against Big Ag within the state. Corporate farming is about profiteering and they generally use unethical methods to secure profits. These methods conflict with smaller ethical farmers who take care of their livestock and understand the importance of cultivating the land and animals. They nurture the process from beginning to end instead of forcing unsustainable practices on the land causing stress to the environment.

Unfortunately, Big Ag was lured into Indiana by Mitch Daniels. Big Ag’s goal is to maximize profit on the smallest amount of space. They inject animals with growth hormones to rush the time to slaughter and cram the animals in confined spaces so they can’t exercise. Pigs are highly intelligent and social animals, so you can imagine the stress of them being locked in crates. Many bang their heads against the bars trying to kill themselves. They are injected with drugs and other chemicals to reduce their stress in captivity. Since their confined living spaces breed infections, they are given antibiotics. In fact, recent reports indicate that 80% of antibiotics used in the United States are given to farm animals.

The problem with using large amounts of antibiotics is it creates superbugs which adapt to antibiotics and many scientists are issuing warnings about the direction this may head. We can all play out this negative scenario.

Instead of playing shallow political games with the usual talking points, we think Luke Messer is missing an opportunity to be a leader within the state. Why not join forces with Europe and support local farming practices. It’s the direction the Food Movement in the United States has been heading over the past several years. Nobody wants to knowingly consume mistreated animals laden with chemicals, and it’s a recipe for illness and disease. Treating the animals and land poorly is unethical and shows poor stewardship of our vital resources.

Mr. Messer should read up on Prince Charles comments about the food industry and become a leader in Indiana. Leadership is desperately needed as we are slipping further behind more progressive states. Political talking points are shallow and indicate the representative is out of touch. The last thing we need in the Hoosier state is more out of touch politicians. We need leaders – could Luke Messer be that kind of representative?

We shall see.

Todd Smekens

Journalist, consultant, publisher, and servant-leader with a passion for truth-seeking. Enjoy motorcycling, meditation, and spending quality time with my daughter and rescue hound. Spiritually-centered first and foremost. Lived in multiple states within the USA and frequent traveler to the mountains.
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