I don’t like to play referee from the balcony. There’s a real disadvantage compared to someone on the field, standing behind home plate.

But every once and a while, the play is so foul that it’s clear to even the people in left field.

That’s how I feel about the proceedings surrounding the farm bill — the one that expired yesterday without any House action to extend or approve another.

I live and work about 400 miles out of Washington, D. C., so that puts me somewhere in the bleachers, but the actions, and inaction, with the 2012 farm bill is something that has been witnessed across the nation.

Early progress

We were told how the U.S. Senate worked to pass a bipartisan version of the bill in June, and that was encouraging. And we were told how the House Ag Committee passed its own version in July, and that was encouraging.

And then we were put on hold, and on hold, until just the past few days, when House Speaker John Boehner confirmed what many already feared — the 2008 farm bill would expire and another one won’t be voted on until after the elections.

For the record, this is not the first farm bill that expired before another one was approved. The 2008 farm bill took nearly a year to become law. It’s actually fairly “common” for a farm bill to expire before another one is approved.

But this past year was anything but common. Our farmers know it and so do some of our legislators.

We had the worst nationwide drought since 1956, slashing yields and driving commodities to record prices. And extreme heat killed livestock and turned our pastures to dust.

Time to act

It would have been the perfect year for the House to do something “uncommon,” and “unusual,” and get the farm bill done.

Politicians often speak of the importance of American agriculture and how they support our hard working farmers. I guess I’d of liked to have seen more hard work from the politicians than going to recess in September and leaving their own work unfinished.

And I know that I’m not alone.

Farmers and farm organizations from across the country, and from both sides of the political aisle joined hands in Washington to rally for farm bill action. And many more rallies were held in towns and communities across the nation — again by people of both parties.

What they got was more uncertainty, more inaction and more excuses.

I understand that this is a Presidential election year, and that parties have to protect their interests. But expect farmers to protect their interests, as well.

Come November, they’ll be doing just that.

Chris Kick lives in Wooster, Ohio. An American FFA Degree recipient, he holds a bachelor’s in creative writing from Ashland University. He spends his free time on his grandparents’ farms in Wayne and Holmes counties.
Chris Kick
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