I am skeptical of the actual horsepower at work here, but a few of the more interesting opinions on the Farm Bill:
It is a joy to begin to work with the Divine Universal Sisterhood and continue on my journey to become one of the few good men who will support our Queen Sister’s in the 2007 Farm Bill Debate, together we can eliminate forever low, low, low, low food insecurity in our nation. [More]
My comment: While doubtless well-meaning here, the um, "Sisterhood" probably means low food security, not insecurity. (Low insecurity is a good thing).
But for the first time, federal farm policy, and at the heart of it, the 2007 Farm Bill, have an opportunity to bring about major reversals of that trend. As a result of growing pressure from developing nations and from other sectors of the U.S. economy, the agricultural industry is beginning to face the reality that it's once-holy commodity subsidies are going to have to be dismantled, or at least substantially reduced, in order to open up free trade opportunities elsewhere.
At the same time, conservationists, environmentalists, hunters, fisherman, and a host of other interest groups have pulled up seats at the table and are demanding that inroads be made towards righting past wrongs, and that small but critical successes of the past two decades be matured into more meaningful long-term solutions. Where farm policy was once the problem, now many of them see it, hopefully, as a solution. [More]
My comment: I don't find the concept of lots of minor lobbying forces constituting a challenge to the ag lobby convincing. These groups have not demonstrated either cooperation or commitment to changing ag policy if it even mildly threatened core issues (like emissions control or in this case, urban planning), hence they are easily co-opted. If farm policy is going to be changed it will occur because fiscal hawks dig in their heels and the President follows through on a veto threat, IMHO.
CALL TO ACTION
Each of us must use our own expertise in a particular subject matter area that you’ve heard mentioned today.
§ Do you know your Congressman? Her or his staff? See me afterwards.
§ Do you understand the positive effect that payment limitations would have on Farm Bill debate, on our
relations with our trading partners, on our own farmers? Can you talk about it in a factual, passionate way?
See me afterwards.
§ Are you a member of Western Growers Association (WGA)? California Farm Bureau Federation (CFBF)?
Agricultural Council of California? A marketing order or commission? Can you work with your
colleagues on areas of common concern? See me afterwards.
§ Have you used any of the programs in the Conservation title, like EQIP or WHIP? Do you have good
relationships with NRCS? See me afterwards.
My comment: California has such a huge Congressional delegation this might amount to something in the House. In the Senate, cotton has a firm grip on both Sen. Feinstein and Boxer. [Sen. Boxer's site even refers obliquely (I think) to the payment limitation issue as "discrimination against California commodities such as cotton, rice, wheat, corn, and dairy".]
Speaker (presumed) Pelosi will be a different fellow altogether than her predecessor. She might even whip the House into near equality with the Senate on farm legislation. I'd call it a long shot, however.
- And of course, the view from Paris
Q. – Is the political situation in the United States conducive to them making major concessions at the WTO?
THE MINISTER – Given the budgetary situation in the United States, the American Executive is very keen for – and needs – a reform of the Farm Bill. It is finding this agricultural policy too expensive. To have outside pressure, in this instance the WTO negotiations, to compel Congress to accept such a reform is invaluable to the American administration./.
My comment: The French are masters at making any outcome look like they planned and delivered it all along. The issue for France is complicated by the public disdain for the Bush administration and their own elections. My guess is if the French want a given Farm Bill outcome, they would be wise to come out against it.
Will these non-traditional players have any impact? I dunno, but if any do - all could.