Wednesday the Senate Ag Committee held the first in its series of hearings on expanding our food and fiber supply through a strong U.S. farm policy. In opening remarks Committee Chairman Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., called the farm bill one of the most important pieces of legislation that Congress considers on behalf of rural America and the nation’s farmers and ranchers. This first hearing focused on how well the current safety net is working for producers.
Chairman Lincoln made five points coming down hard on the TV and newspaper media for what she called abuse. She said they really ought to know better than to bite the hand that feeds them. She spoke against a top-to-bottom approach to policy saying most American farm and ranch families simply want steady, predictable, supportive policies coming out of Washington. Lincoln called for more creativity and a move away from promoting policies that discourage food and fiber production toward policies that help U.S. agriculture meet the needs of a planet that will one day host nine billion people.
Also during opening remarks Ranking Member of the Committee Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., pointed out that agriculture spending is a small share of the federal budget. While many believe the bulk of agriculture program funding goes toward commodity programs that is not the case. In fact, nutrition spending is the largest share of the committee’s mandatory outlays at approximately 81%.