Whether you’re elated or depressed about the election results, the reality is we have re-elected President Obama for a second term, the Democrats have strengthened their hold of the Senate, and the Republicans have maintained their edge in the House. What does this mean for Americans, and what does it mean specifically for cattle ranchers?
Now that the political campaigns have come to an end, our elected leaders in Congress hopefully can get back to work, with passage of a farm bill among the biggest priorities. How can ranchers and farmers plan for the upcoming year if they don’t know where they stand with the farm bill?
Barry Flinchbaugh, Kansas State University professor emeritus of ag economics, recently spoke at the National Agricultural Bankers Conference, and shared a serious message: The tightest presidential election in history will come to an end on election day, but it won't solve serious deadlocks on Capitol Hill.
"It's not economic uncertainty that's driving the economy. It's political uncertainty and political incompetence. We're likely to wake up Wednesday morning and we'll discover the election won't solve it. Republicans will control the House, Democrats will control the Senate, President Obama will have four more years in the White House.”
A report on KXLO Country Radio had more on this topic: “Now Flinchbaugh is chastising wing nuts at both extremes of the political parties for their inability to compromise. He doubts the lame duck Congress will address farm legislation that expired Sept. 30, leaving the dairy program in limbo, livestock producers without disaster relief, and funding nightmares for soil conservation. Authority for food stamp programs ends Dec. 31. Crop insurance is covered by separate legislation, so would continue intact, although critics are demanding cuts in the premium subsidies farmers receive or perhaps restrictions on big farmers.”
Flinchbaugh says: "When Congress had the audacity in the midst of a 60-year drought to adjourn and let the farm bill expire, I told AP that if I was a member of Congress I'd be too embarrassed to go home. What some members of Congress don't seem to realize is that the country reverted to permanent farm legislation on Oct. 1 that has its roots in the 1930s and was last amended in 1949. If Congress doesn't act, 2013 crops will be covered by an ancient, nonrecourse loan program that sets a 50-90% price floor on commodities, indexed to parity prices from 1910 to 1914. That's 100-year-old farm policy. It means wheat prices will be fixed at $18/bu., corn at $12/bu., beans $27/bu., cotton $2/lb. and milk at $52/cwt.
While legislators are deadlocked over funding for food and nutrition programs,farm bills can't pass Congress without urban support, he says. “There are less than 50 ag districts out of 435, so how do you pass a bill without food stamps? It's not rocket science. You've got to build a majority when you're in the minority. The most likely outcome will be for Congress to delay rewriting farm legislation until next April. By then, the administration will be scrambling to finalize regulations in time for the 2013 crop. I'm pleading for horse sense. When someone asked Harry Truman what he meant by that, he defined it as something mules don't have,” Flinchbaugh says.
Congress must get to work and settle their differences for the good of the nation; as farmers and ranchers, we need to demand that they do so.
In addition to lending our voices and influence on the farm bill issue, I think it will be incredibly important to fight the very active regulatory environment of the Obama administration, in order to avoid new rules that would prove burdensome to food producers.
I’m a glass half-full kind of gal, so I think it’s important to look on the bright side. In America, we have the freedom to choose, and we exercised our right to vote on Tuesday. That’s something worth celebrating. And, on the bright side, at least the mudslinging campaign advertisements will cease for a little while.
What are you feelings on the election results? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
By the way, congratulations go to Bev Saunders for her caption in the latest contest. Her entry of “Cowboys and Angels” earned her a $125 Roper Apparel gift certificate. Check out all the entries here! The next contest starts Nov. 19; stay tuned for more details!