The Republican Party, particularly House Republicans, are facing significant internal divisions over the 2012 Farm Bill with pressure from both rural Americans/legislators and pressure from fiscal conservatives threatening to stall debate and prevent the passage of vital farm legislation.
For the past several months, Americans have experienced a strange, and at times antagonistic, relationship with the agricultural community. While most Americans acknowledge the vital role of farming in the American economy (a role that is hammered home by prominent farm officials like Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack), some Americans have also expressed resentment at expensive farm subsidies being distributed in the middle of a prosperous time for most farmers.
Congress has reflected these divisions. While most lawmakers acknowledge that farming is important to the economy, major divisions have sprung up, especially among conservatives in the GOP. While many mainstream Republicans agree that farming needs to be protected, some fiscal conservatives and conservative think tanks have railed against farm subsidies as a form of welfare.
Scholars at the American Enterprise Institute (a non-partisan think tank committed to limited government, free-market capitalism, and largely staffed by former members of the Bush administration and/or prominent members of the GOP), have denounced many farm subsidies as a drain on taxpayers and an expensive boondoggle.
This infighting has stalled the passage of the farm bill in Congress, leading some farmers to worry about the future of vital farm programs like disaster assistance and crop insurance.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer