There’s just over a month until the current farm bill expires, and some lawmakers are gearing up for a tough fight. Florida Congresswoman Kat Cammack (R-FL) spoke at the Sweetener Symposium in California last week and said she’s expecting a battle over the farm bill. In an interview with us on Monday, she explained some of the issues she expects.
“Certainly, the price tag. That’s I think, first and foremost, the cause for concern for my colleagues on the right. For my colleagues on the left, the price tag is not enough,” she said. “So, you find yourself in this very weird situation where you’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t. And that is always the tricky part about the Farm Bill.”
That’s not the only issue. She said every farm bill has a battle over the nutrition title, which goes to programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Women, Infants and Children Nutrition Program (WIC).
“You have a very lopsided farm bill every time it comes up because eighty percent, in this case, eighty-two percent of the farm bill is going to nutritional, whereas six percent and the remainder goes to food production,” Cammack said. “You have a very, very small number of people putting food on the shelf and a very large number of people taking food off the shelf. So, you have to ask yourself, ‘How much longer can we go down this path? How far can a trendline go before it is no longer sustainable?’ So that’s always a point of contention. And the lack of effort to get rid of the waste, fraud, and abuse in the nutritional program is always a point of contention.”
She said another factor that complicates the farm bill is the regionality of it. Each of the nation’s growing regions has different crops and different needs. Still, she said it’s an important piece of legislation, and that fact will help it get passed.
“The thing that the chairman, as well as members of the committee, have continued to push for within their own spheres of influence was, this is a national security bill. This isn’t just a farm bill. This is a national security bill because we need to start talking about agriculture as a national security concern,” she said. “So, if people can see it through that lens, I think then they can maybe start to come around on some of the finer points.”
The current farm bill expires at the end of September.