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[Article Summarized by Meridian Institute] In this opinion piece, Steve Kopperud, of Brownfield, comments on what he calls an “assault on ag” that began this week with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV)’s plan to avoid sequestration. The plan uses both spending cuts and tax increases to save $110 billion. The spending cuts are simple, says Kopperud – the sequestration pain of the entire federal government is to be borne by defense and agriculture. Reid’s plan cuts the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s budget by $27.5 billion by killing all direct payments beginning in 2014. Kopperud argues that Reid’s plan represents the priority, or lack thereof, on getting a farm bill done this year. Some of the best minds in agriculture stated this week that they would not be surprised if no farm bill is enacted in 2013. Why, asks Kopperud? Because Congress doesn’t care about the farm bill. And the reason they don’t care, he argues, is “there is no demand from farmers, researchers, biofuel refiners, specialty crop folks or the even the organic gang — beneficiaries of various farm programs – to enact a Farm Bill. There’s no countryside drumbeat among ag groups, no screaming to the media about the lack of a Farm Bill and economic pain in the heartland. The traditional grassroots demand for a comprehensive Farm Bill is eerily lacking this year.” Maybe you’re making too much money, he says, but until agriculture gets noisy, Congress will sit on its thumbs. “Fundamentally,” writes Kopperud, “legislation gets done because the direct beneficiaries want the programs and they’re not shy about making their desires known. This is called oiling the squeaky wheel. Time to let your House and Senate members know if you really want a 2013 Farm Bill or not.”

Posted February 15th, 2013