|
|
PrattTribune - Pratt, KS
  • Farm bill not farmer-friendly

  • Rep. Mike Pompeo talked about his negative vote and other issues while visiting Pratt on Friday.
    • email print
  • The farm bill didn't have enough "farm" in it to suit U.S. Congressman Mike Pompeo so he didn't vote for it as was the case for a majority of the House this week in a 234 to 195 vote to defeat the bill.
    He still has hopes that Congress will be able to put together a farm bill that is beneficial to U.S. farmers.
    Pompeo shared his point of view about the farm bill and other issues during a visit to Pratt Friday that included a visit to Pratt Regional Medical Center and a public meet and greet at the Pratt Municipal Building.
    A chief reason Pompeo didn't vote for the farm bill was that 80 percent of the $1 trillion bill was for food stamp programs. Of that amount, less than half of one percent of the money would go to aid Kansas farmers. He just didn't view it as a farm bill anymore, Pompeo said.
    And it's not just the farmers and ranchers but the food processors and distributors also have a vested interest in getting a working farm bill on the books.
    Among the elements Pompeo wants to see in a farm bill is a crop insurance provision to replace direct payments from the government. He said too many people saw direct payments as just a government handout to farmers and crop insurance was the way to go.
    Some members of Congress don't have a rural background and don't understand the importance of crop insurance in an industry where important elements are out of the farmer's control.
    Without crop insurance, bankers are reluctant to extend the loans necessary to purchase equipment, land and provide operating funds.
    The farm bill had 103 amendments including one that required able-bodied persons to look for work before they could apply for food stamps. Democrats voted against the bill because they didn't approve of that amendment.
    An amendment to split the bill into one for food stamps and one for agriculture was not offered.
    In his 27 months in office, Congress has failed to pass a farm bill twice and has passed two extensions of the existing plan. Pompeo expects Congress will pass another extension for a year or two.
    Even with the problems, Pompeo said he believed Congress could work out the issues and come up with a farm bill that would benefit farmers because too much is at stake to get a bill that doesn't work.
    "We have to get it right," Pompeo said.
    The food stamp issue also needs to be settled in a manner that is positive for the country. Getting people working is a key to reducing the need for food stamps for some 46 million Americans.
    Page 2 of 2 - Cleaning up the food stamp program and getting rid of waste and fraud is vital to make the food stamp program work.
    But Kansas isn't only about agriculture. The ever-expanding oil and gas industry is also having a positive impact on Kansas and the country.
    The realized potential of hydraulic fracturing that allows drillers to get gas out of the ground that was unreachable before has put the U.S. in a unique position that it may be exporting gas to other countries in a couple of years, Pompeo said.
    Having gas exports will give some relief to energy scarcity and reduce our dependency on foreign oil. In the long run it will drive down the cost of oil and natural gas and reduce the risk in the Middle East.
    It will also bring jobs back to America from Asia manufacturing and lower energy costs.
    "We have an opportunity to flip that on its head," Pompeo said. "This is game changing for America."
    Getting illegal immigration under control is also a vital issue for the U.S. and for Kansas as well. The country needs to have lawful immigration reform and boarder security. The country already has 11 million illegal immigrants and if something isn't done the problem will only get worse. The county needs to know who is coming in and going out.
      • calendar