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Karl Guenther Column: No change, some hope in Washington for farm bill

There is a little hope among our nation’s farmers and ranchers.  Actually, nothing much has changed in Washington.  I speak specifically of a new farm bill, and immigration reform.  To be sure, legislative committee chairmen, and agricultural organization public relations people and the chief executives they work for are all joined in the chorus of hooray, that welcomes Senate approval of a new farm bill, and of a proposed immigration reform.  We can stay with that hopeful note in acknowledging there’d be no immigration reform or a new farm bill, without Senate approval.  But when one goes looking for Change, to go along with that Hope, we first must realize that even with the aforementioned Senate approval, we still do not have, either a new farm bill or immigration reform, which is so important to agriculture, particularly in states like Michigan where so much of agriculture production is in the orchards, vineyards, and gardens.

It just could be that Hope and Change do not easily mesh - - they just don’t go together. One can Hope, without anybody’s permission - - without any help.  Change, is a little different.  Whereas Hope is largely emotional and spiritual, Change is perhaps more complex, and certainly is not something that happens, especially in these matters, without a lot of help-and, if not permission, at least acquiescence.

So, as I think about it, there may indeed be Hope among our federal legislators, upon whom we depend to bring about this Change.  Now we’re at the point where we still have some Hope, but the certainty of Change is anything but certain.

Immigration reform indeed did pass in the full Senate. But it needs approval in the House, and the President’s signature.  If, eventually, the House does come up with an Immigration reform bill, it would almost certain have to go to conference committee for reconciliation with the Senate version.  In other words, what goes to the President is something on which the House and Senate are in agreement. Does anybody anywhere see that happening, anytime soon?  The last I  heard, the Senate version emphasizes a path to citizenship for eleven or twelve milllion folks who are here illegally.  Border security is in there, but . . . . Over in the House, the word is, don’t talk to us about those citizenship issues until the border is secure. There’s a change for which there doesn’t seem to be much hope.

As for the new farm bill, no change there, at least not the jingling kind.  The Senate version, which passed last session and was redone and passed this session, did not find favor in the House.  The major sticking point - - - Food Stamps.  That’s a huge part of the legislation, and the Senate version cut a lot of money out of it.  The folks in the House are saying, That’s fine, but it doesn’t go far enough.  Either issue, Immigration Reform or Farm Bill, needs more than Hope to bring about Change.

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