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Will You Still Need Me, Will You Still Feed Me: Farm Bill of 64 Years Ago May Prevail?

September 10th, 2013 | Posted by in Policy

As one who is tasked with monitoring Washington political actions, particularly as they effect bio-based chemicals and bio-refinery initiatives, I’ve recently taken up the habit of checking local news stories across the land that chronicle various meetings lawmakers are having with constituents during this recess period. In sharp contrast to the look and feel of meetings on Capitol Hill, meetings in local districts tend to draw plain-speaking people with a genuine vested interest in the outcome of proposed legislation. In was in one of these accounts – in fact the last sentence of the story – that included something that may make most people’s jaws drop in the heartland. The sentence, from a story in the Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Gazette by James Q. Lynch entitled, Support for farm bill at U.S. Rep. Braley meeting fragmented, was this: The current farm bill expires Sept. 30. If Congress fails to act by that date, existing agricultural programs will end and farm policy will revert to the programs outlined in the 1949 Farm Bill.

It seems plausible to me that this potential outcome isn’t widely known throughout America. But it has been reported elsewhere. Here’s just one of many examples. It comes from a site called policymic in a story with the headline: Reforming the Farm Bill Isn’t Just About Money; It’s About America’s Health. In it, writer Olga Jbeili reports: If a new bill fails to pass, farm programs would lose billions of dollars and would go back to the 1949 law, which would reintroduce higher governments price supports for milk, corn, rice, wheat and could lead to higher consumer prices and federal spending.

1949? Seriously? If you really want to get a grip on just how long ago that was, scan this site at historyorb.com. For example the first 45 rpm record was launched by RCA in 1949.  Ya, I know, what’s a 45 rpm record? OK, Harry Truman was President. And, for an additional glimpse into how ridiculous it would be to lash the 1949 bill onto 2013, see this from the WONKBLOG at The Washington Post, with special reference to the section entitled We’re going to party like it’s 1949.

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