Last week the House passed a Farm Bill that did not contain a food and nutrition title. Indiana Farm Bureau President Don Villwock says nutrition is a farm issue that needs to be addressed. By removing the food stamp and nutrition programs from the Farm Bill, Republicans were able to garner enough votes to pass a Farm Bill. But Villwock maintains this is a mistake, “We in agriculture need the support of the nutrition community.” He pointed out that most people would not vote for a Farm Bill, but would vote for a nutrition program that feeds children.
The Knox County farmer, who was on Capitol Hill during the debate, says farmers did not make their voice heard on the Farm Bill issue, “There is a great deal of indecision among farmers about the Farm Bill. Many are not sure we even need a Farm Bill.” He warned, however, that going forward farmers will need to make their voice heard on Capitol Hill in order to get a Farm Bill passed.
A veteran of many Farm Bills, Villwock admits he is uncertain about where things will go now and remains pessimistic about eventual passage of a new Farm Bill, “There are so many challenges in from of us now.” Rumors are circulating in Washington that the House will not appoint conferees to a House/Senate conference committee and that Senate leaders have said they will not go to conference until the House deals with the nutrition programs.
He told HAT that inclusion of a nutrition program in a Farm Bill would be good policy for urban and rural America, “There are many schools in rural Indiana where over 50% of the children qualify for free or reduced cost breakfast and lunch programs.” He said these programs have an impact on the quality of life in rural America and represent a significant source of demand for food produced by farmers.
Listen to the complete interview with Don Villwock on the Farm Bureau page on this web site and the audio section of the HAT app for Smartphones and tablets.