As the process toward a compromise farm bill enters the home stretch, with the possibility of an extension until after the elections, it will likely fall on the shoulders of the “big four” of conference—the chairs and ranking members of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees.
Three of the four—Senate chair Pat Roberts, R-KS; Senate Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow, D-MI; and House Ranking Member Collin Peterson, D-MN—all seem in agreement that a farm bill with strengthened integrity for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program seems the best way to go.
House Ag Chairman Mike Conaway, R-TX, is the lone holdout, nobly carrying the water like Gunga Din for House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-WI, in the name of welfare reform while farmers in his district and across the country deal with a faltering rural economy and the threat of losing farms and homesteads loom over their shoulders.
As the time draws near to wrap up this Congress and get a farm bill passed in a timely manner, I’d offer Ryan a piece of advice: Let this welfare reform dream pass and let a farm bill be signed so farmers won’t decide to vote your party out of the House.
The character Marcellus Wallace from Pulp Fiction could explain this better to Speaker Ryan, (also known by his nickname of Screech, since he looks like the character in Saved By The Bell) than I could.
“The night of the final vote, you may feel a slight sting. That’s pride messing with you. To hell with pride. Pride only hurts, it never helps. I think you’re going to find, when all this is over and done, I think you’re going to find yourself one smiling old speaker.
“The thing is, Screech, right now, you got ability. But painful as it may be, ability don’t last. And your days are just about over. Now, that’s a hard fact of life. But that’s a fact of life you’re going to have to get realistic about.
“You see, this business is filled to the brim on both sides of the aisle with unrealistic ideologues. Ideologues who thought their ideas would age like wine. If you mean it turns to vinegar, it does. If you mean it gets better with age, it don’t.
“Besides, Screech, how many fights you think you got in you anyway? Hmm? Two? This and immigration? Speakers don’t have an old-timers’ day. You came close, but you never made it. And if you were going to make it, you would have made it before now.”
It’s time for Ryan and Conaway to understand this idea of incorporating welfare reform into a farm bill was never going to make it.
Someone also needs to explain to President Donald Trump that bad-mouthing Stabenow isn’t effective and signing a farm bill with Roberts by his side is by far the hugest, biggest, most phenomenal, terrific, tremendous, high energy, amazing, classy, win ever for American agriculture.
Larry Dreiling can be reached at 785-628-1117 or email@example.com.