Northeastern Congresscritters Have an Opportunity. Will They Seize It?

We read in the NY Times (boldface mine):

The impact of the hot and dry weather on the nation’s farmers has put new pressure on Congress to move ahead on a pending five-year farm bill. But House Republican leaders have been reluctant to act because of divisions within the party’s rank-and-file about the cost of the nearly $1 trillion bill.

The legislation includes several federal agriculture programs that farmers have come to expect, though it does not include any specific drought assistance. Several important disaster relief programs expired at the end of 2011, leaving farmers and ranchers who have lost cattle or grazing land with few options without Congressional action.

“I’ve been urging the House of Representatives to get a bill to the floor and get it voted on so they can conference with the Senate and get a farm bill passed,” said Thomas J. Vilsack, the agriculture secretary.

According to the article, there won’t be any immediate price hikes (they probably wouldn’t kick in until 2013). Meat prices will actually decline in the short term:

Cattle farmers in several states have already started selling off or culling cattle because the drought has ruined grass for grazing and the price for corn for feed has skyrocketed.

Daniel R. Glickman, the agriculture secretary in the Clinton administration, said that as farmers started reducing or selling their herds, meat prices could fall because of a glut of beef on the market.

“So in the short term, that’s good for customers,” Mr. Glickman said.

For once, it would be nice to see the Northeastern delegation use the ag bill as leverage. All the small states with disproportionate influence on a variety of issues due to equal Senate representation, not just agriculture, are hurting right now.

Do your fucking jobs, play hardball and get some funding for things the Northeast needs (LIHEAP comes to mind; some transit funding would be nice too).

I don’t mean this to be cruel or vengeful, but that’s how a union works: you help us, and we help you. Yet every time we need something, it’s tarred as ‘wasteful spending’ or some other hooey. They’re not getting the concept. So, as someone who has lived his entire life in states that send more to the Treasury than they receive, it’s our turn now. We need the help too.

Hopefully, our congressional delegation will understand this, although I doubt it.

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