KSDebate – Agriculture: The Farm Bill

Dr. Bob Beatty, KSNT: Congress passed a new farm bill earlier this year that is expected to save roughly $16 billion in government spending over the next decade.  Senator Roberts, you voted against this bill.  What would each of you like to see in the next farm bill that is not in the current one?

Pat Roberts (R): In the next Farm Bill, obviously you’re going to have to go with the current Farm Bill, and see if it is working. Here in Wichita, the Farm Service Agency folks are meeting with regards to the Farm Bill, which I think headed in the wrong direction.

I think we need a real shakeup and an understanding of the Department of Agriculture, the production of agriculture means a lot. Farmers and ranchers mean a lot. All of the businesses up and down Main Street mean a lot. 83% of the funding in the Ag budget goes to SNAP, or food stamps. This is a program that cries out for reform. This is another example where my opponent will not support anything like that because it is a primary concern of Barack Obama and Harry Reid. This program has exploded in spending. The cut was only 1%. It will cost over $800 billion in the next 10 years. I think we ought to stop and think about what we do with Ag research , what we do with greater export programs and have our exports…

Greg Orman (I): First, if you want to talk about the food stamp program, I think ultimately, we need to see economic growth in this country because we need to create a kind of jobs where people don’t need to be on food stamps. I have talked a lot about in this election how I think we have a new American paradox.

I believe that it is harder than ever for the average American to get ahead, and then paradoxically but easier to do nothing with your life. And I’ve talked about that, those means-tested programs and asking one very simple question: Are the programs promoting upward mobility and accountability or are they promoting complacency and dependency?

If they are promoting complacency, I think we need to adjust them, and ultimately, we may need to end them.

Rebuttal

Pat Roberts (R): Well my amendment during the Farm Bill would have cut 36 million on eligibility and taking advantage of the program. It was defeated largely by Harry Reid and the democrats and because president Obama would not go there, that is one of his chief programs.

Again, you have to get back to production agriculture to understand the farmer and rancher, both feed not only this country, but a troubled and hungry world. We’re going to have about 9 billion people on the planet in the next couple of decades. Our farmers and ranchers have to be looked at in that context and have the USDA pay more attention to them and their livelihood than some bloated program that cries out for reform.

Greg Orman (I): We need to reform those programs so they are encouraging upward mobility and not complacency and dependency. Senator Roberts, when I said that at our first debate at the State Fair, I got thumbs up from him. Now we’ve got a different story. Apparently, that doesn’t make sense anymore.

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