Rep. Stutzman and the Farm Bill

Derek Pillie, writing at Hoosier Access (a conservative blog on Indiana politics for those who are unfamiliar), has an entry on Rep. Marlin Stutzman’s activity with respect to the federal Farm Bill. The blog post cites an article by Gary Truitt in Hoosier Agriculture.

Two main parts of the Farm Bill typically get a lot of attention: the food stamp program and the subsidies and payments to farmers and agricultural interests. Pillie has an interesting construct in describing an amendment proposed by Stutzman. “Yesterday he filed amendments with the House Rules Committee that would split off entitlement programs from the agriculture programs.”

I presume “entitlement” programs are those with money for Them while “agriculture” programs are those with money for Us. Stutzman is certainly one of the “Us,” having received about $200,000 in farm welfare assistance for his own agricultural interests. Farmers are hard working and good whereas food stamp recipients are lazy and bad. That’s the economic morality play narrative that underlies the politics of this thing anyway. In my mind, the distinction between government money given to agricultural interests and government money given to feed people is tenuous and largely artificial. If you want to insist that non-farmers earn their own way or starve, then you probably ought to insist that agricultural interests profit or perish.

As I understand the conjoined history of the farm subsidies and food stamp program, it was a fairly simple proposition at first. We have farmers who can’t make money, and we have hungry people who need food. Lets give farmers money for their food and give food to hungry people. Divide that house, and both sides will probably fall. And, if you’re a small government purist, that’s probably a good thing. Otherwise, it probably looks like a recipe for unnecessary suffering all around.


  1. Stuart says

    The number of mean-spirited laws (passed as well as the ones that die in committee) that are written to “support a principle” forget that one of the central and underlying purposes of government is to support the common good. These laws reveal so much about the writers that it might be just as helpful for these folks to simply publish essays entitled “Why I’m a Low-Down Skunk”.

  2. Carlito Brigante says

    We need not look far to see the Cadillac Welfare Queens. Rural Roads are clogged with Cadillac Escalades paid for with direct to farm welfare.

    • Stuart says

      Especially in So. Indiana where they have such good reason to vote for the likes of the above-named politician and his ilk. Like the chickens voting for Colonel Sanders.

  3. Carlito Brigante says

    The conjoined history of Food stamps and the farm bill aligned disparate interests, rural legislators and urban legislators from different parties.

    Such an alignment is no longer necessary in the right wing house.

    • Stuart says

      And when they have peeled away all layers of the onion, when the society has disintegrated to clans and just before we perish as a republic, their last words will be, “Hey, I guess all that stuff was connected!”

      • Doug says

        I was re-listening to an episode of Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History last night as I was mowing the lawn. It was one of the episodes about the decline of the Roman Republic. One problem with which Rome struggled mightily was the increased aggregation of wealth by Rome’s upper class. They would leverage this wealth to dispossess the middle class of real estate and then work the land with slave labor. The concentration of wealth and absence of a strong middle class made Rome much more susceptible to demagogues who had a destabilizing influence.

        • Carlito Brigante says

          Sounds like the ante-bellum South, but a middle class probably never much developed there in plantation country.

          Odd that the demagogues the fading middle class listen to offer them no solutions except anger at the current government and the specious claims that the lazy poor have it easier than the middle class that have cars, houses, boats and usually jobs.

          And tax cuts to further acrete wealth to the uber-wealthy and dismantling of the social programs upon which the middle class will rely in their retirement. But if you do not understand where your interests lie, maybe you deserve to have them subverted.

          • Stuart says

            I’m pulled between the do-gooder in me that wants to help them out of their mess, saying “Let me show you the facts”, and the realistic and wiser person that says, “Nothing you will say will make them change. These people want their mess and don’t have the sense to take the hand of someone who would help them out of it. They love to be angry and suspicious because it feels good now. They could care less if the bones left on the plate are theirs.”

            • Carlito Brigante says

              Stuart, Can you source this quote? It is great.

              Nothing you will say will make them change. These people want their mess and don’t have the sense to take the hand of someone who would help them out of it. They love to be angry and suspicious because it feels good now. They could care less if the bones left on the plate are theirs.” –

              • Stuart says

                Sorry. I made it up, aside from the last sentence. It belongs to Frederick Buechner, in the context of what happens to people who hate. Basically, the message is that they chew on it, savor it and crave for more, but in the end, the bones left on the plate are theirs.

      • Carlito Brigante says

        It will be interesting what the nation devolves into. The fringe of the far right are just itching to shoot people. But they lack the courage to stand and return fire against superior firepower. Rather than being the fifth column they are more braggarts and brigands without balls.

        The left still cannot recapture and hold the working class that it won in the 1930s and held through 1980. The right just frightens people more, and it seems intent on marginalizing itself further.

        Demagoguges coming to power through election is probably unlikely in our two-party system. They would have to take it by force or threat of force.

        • Stuart says

          The ones suspicious of the government, who believe that they might have to defend themselves against it, are doing the very thing that the ones who will start the fight would do. Paranoia and aggressive inclinations don’t mix well. I would like to see the percentage of the population who are into that craziness.

        • Stuart says

          Carlito, I found it. It’s actually what Buechner says about anger:
          “Of the Seven Deadly Sins, anger is possibly the most fun. To lick your wounds, to smack your lips over grievances long past, to roll over your tongue the prospect of bitter confrontations still to come, to savor to the last toothsome morsel both the pain you are given and the pain you are giving back–in many ways it is a feast fit for a king. The chief drawback is that what you are wolfing down is yourself. The skeleton at the feast is you.”

          • Carlito Brigante says

            Very interesting quote. Kind of like resentment, where you take the poison and expect the other SOB to die.

            Still, there is might be some catharsis in Anger if you do it the way Buechner says. That would take some time to practice the technique.

          • says

            Reminds me of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country where Kirk found that he had trouble letting go of his hate for the Klingons even where letting go was the rational thing.

  4. says

    Thanks for the link back to our piece… if you saw today’s open item you’ll note that none of Rep. Stutzman’s amendments were made in order for consideration under the rule.

    While you can agree or disagree about farm subsidies… I do see both sides of the coin there – I think the point Stutzman was trying to make is that at some point in its fractured history Congress started “using” these entitlement/aid programs as a crutch to pass the farm bill. I agree with the idea of treating these programs separately as a matter of policy because they don’t have much to do with each other.

    That said, Congress in general has taken to amalgamating large swaths of legislation that has nothing to do with one another into sweeping authorization or appropriation bills (or, as has become the unfortunate reality – both), so I don’t see this trend changing soon.

    We’ll be watching the votes on the amendments today to see how they line up with what Members say on the issue… all too often we have members say one thing, accept campaign contributions from some interest group and vote a different way hoping no one notices. I sincerely hope that isn’t the case today, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

    • says

      Logrolling is pretty much as old as Congress itself. In fact, I was introduced to the concept in a history lesson talking about how the Virginians agreed to federal assumption of state war debts in exchange for location of the national capitol in its present location.

    • John says

      Derek I respectfully disagree with you. Farmers are in the business of producing food and SNAP is in the business of distributing food. so in my mind it only makes sense to marry the two. The problem is eliminating abuse and just some of the crazy components of each side of the farm bill/SNAP bill. Two examples first with SNAP if you have a school where 73% of the students qualify for free lunch under the SNAP provisions the entire school then qualifies for free lunch and breakfast. I teach and farm, the where I teach qualifies under the above provision yet our students(around 1300) still find the money to empty five vending machines every day. Now on to the farm side you have the ewe(female) lamb replacement subsidy. For each ewe lamb a farmer keeps you can apply and receive $18.00. Point being allow for a safety net for food production/consumption and cut out the silly stuff!


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