Monday, April 29, 2019

Title and wording in the 2018 Farm Bill

Before firing people or putting them in jail for using the wrong pronoun for a guy who's feeling girlish today, or maybe “theyish” tomorrow, I suggest renaming the Farm Bill. 80% of the Farm Bill is food assistance, and it's just silly to call it anything else. The 2 issues aren't related at all--but sloppy language increases confusion during partisan debates. The 2018 Farm Bill (Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018, HR2) is $867 Billion over 10 years. It dwarfs the budgets of the NIH, CDC and FDA, probably because good nutrition does contribute to good health. 42% of low income women are obese, with a higher figure if they use government assistance.

Depending on which expert you read, and how much you hate Trump/Republicans the various cuts are either a savings or a disaster for the poor. Farm Journal reported it was budget neutral, with a possible savings of $7 million over the 10 years.

And speaking of language, it did clean up some unpronounceable acronyms into simply, FOTO. The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP) and Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Program ( OASDVFRP or Section 2501) are now the Farming Opportunities Training and Outreach (FOTO) program. That should save some money in printing right there. At least no one should be fired if they mispronounce it.

Note: In reading through the Section 2501 (now called FOTO) previous year's budget and accomplishments I noticed all the money for socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers went to minority farmers and ranchers, even though about 40% of those on government assistance are white. I wonder if this is another example of the government picking winners and losers on the basis of ethnicity and skin color.

Another lie you often hear about our assistance programs (with the intent to increase the Farm Bill) is that you can't feed a family on food stamps (SNAP). Maybe that's because it was never intended for that. But actually, a resourceful Canadian has shown otherwise with her cookbook, "Good and cheap," using a SNAP budget for a healthy diet. And it's free on line, or you can order a paper copy.

No comments: