In a letter to senators representing Colorado, New Mexico, and Wyoming, RMFU President Kent Peppler, a Mead, Colo., farmer, reiterated RMFU’s absolute opposition to removing the nutrition title from the Farm Bill and repealing the permanent legislation that farm policy is built on.
“There is a faction in the House that seems to have no answer to any problem except to blow it up,” Peppler said with some exasperation. “Repealing the Agriculture Act of 1949 makes about as much sense as killing your dog because he won’t fetch your slippers. If you don’t like the way your car runs, you don’t blow it up, you fix it.” Peppler pointed out that repeal leaves a vacuum that the House shows no signs of replacing with an alternative. “Farm legislation helps make American farming competitive,” Peppler said. “It ensures that American consumers will spend the lowest percentage of their income on food of almost any country, and it feeds America’s hungry.”
The letter describes the coalition of agriculture and nutrition as a collaboration of the under-represented. That coalition is a foundation stone of RMFU. “We are not going to balance the budget on the backs of the poor,” Peppler said. “Our organizational policy, which is set by grassroots members, recognizes the importance of nutrition programs to our nation’s future, security, and well-being,. We are absolutely opposed to cynical attempts to divide the interests of agricultural producers and America’s neediest citizens.”
The letter points out that every nutrition dollar puts 20 cents in the pocket of farmers and ranchers. “Someone has to grow the food for programs that feed schoolchildren and the elderly,” Peppler said. According to USDA estimates, 70 percent of nutrition money goes to households with children, and about 80 percent of SNAP recipients are either employed or on Social Security. A SNAP (“food stamp”) dollar adds $1.80 to the local economy. Conversely, farm program dollars keep food prices lower. “Congress remembered that when they were talking about eliminating price supports for milk,” Peppler said. “The prospect of milk at $7/gallon and legions of angry moms got the message across.”
The letter concludes, “The effort to break the link between family farms and the urban poor is meant to disenfranchise both groups, a crude attempt to divide and defeat. Our members understand that, and they do not support that effort.”