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You're gonna get 'It'

Agriculture.com Staff 02/05/2006 @ 9:48am

Growing up in this neck of the Arkansas woods in the 1940s and 1950s and finally becoming legally able to vote and buy adult beverages in the 1960s probably influenced the way my generation views life. We knew when we did something that we were not supposed to do, we were likely to suffer consequences.

Very few folks used the word "consequences." It has more syllables than many from that time and place were comfortable with. In my younger days a person who said consequences might be accused of using a two dollar word when a nickel word would do the job. I think the most common term used when consequences were about to rain down upon you for bad behavior was "It." As in, "Boy you are going to get it now!" "It" had many forms, and none were pleasant. Most utilized a switch, limb, belt or some other leather implement.

When one was on the receiving end of punishment, it was described as "the chickens are coming home to roost." That meant you were reaping what you had sown, and "It" was your just reward.

Just prior to Christmas of 2005, farm and rural communities saw part of their flock come home to roost when President Bush and Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert killed the effort headed by fellow Republican Senator Thad Cochran of Mississippi to pass farm disaster legislation. The farm community owes Senator Cochran much gratitude for his effort to provide sorely needed relief to the ag industry that is reeling from a horrible disaster. The disaster is not only a combination of weather related crop losses, but also one of depressed farm prices and unheard of production expenses.

Normally, the disaster programs operated by the United States Department of Agriculture require a 35% yield loss for eligibility, and the benefits are skimpy. Producers suffering from financial disasters are not eligible; therefore, Senator Cochran's plan would have provided direct payments to producers at a rate of 50% of what the farm had received for the 2005 crop year, a far more logical and effective method of delivering relief.

But the Bush Administration was having none of it, and after the measure won senate approval, they enlisted the help of what has been referred to as the "Shiite Republicans" in the House of Representatives and killed the Cochran proposal that had the support of many farm state members, Republicans and Democrats.

The term Shiite Republicans is often used to describe the ultra conservative house members who hate all government programs, except possibly those operated by the Department of Defense. Some are holdovers from the days of Newt Gingrich when a frontal assault on farm programs was launched in 1995 to end all farm programs with a budget bribery scheme known as Freedom to Farm, which became the 1996 Farm Bill. It failed farmers miserably and was replaced by the 2002 Farm Bill one year ahead of its intended life cycle. During that period a conclusion was reached by Congress and scholars studying farm policy. They understoods that the family farm system was the desirable structure for our nation's production agricultural sector. The experts also concluded that a farm "safety net" was a necessary component to preserve that structure. The result of that counsel was passage of the 2002 Farm Bill, and that should have ended the extremists' efforts to drive more farmers from the land.

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