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Farm Bill’s Produce Pittance Points To Apathy For Government Relations

Here at Pundit Central, we have received at least 40 press releases from various organizations celebrating the recent passage in the U.S. House of Representatives of a new Farm Bill, which includes more funding for nutrition and conservation initiatives, including more money for fresh produce than ever before.

It is a triumph for the Specialty Crop Farmers Alliance, and we applauded our industry government relations efforts here.

Yet in these 40 press releases, we find a succinct explanation for why people in the industry don’t always support government-relations efforts, despite their importance.

The gist of these 40 press releases is the same: The new Farm Bill has allocated about $2 billion for the produce industry. Most of the releases mention all or some of the places that $2 billion is going:

  • USDA Fruit and Vegetable School Snack Program,
  • State block grants to increase industry competitiveness,
  • Purchase more fruits and vegetables for school lunch,
  • Expand the DOD Fresh Program for schools,
  • Provide technical assistance to address international market access issues,
  • Invest in specialty crop research including produce food safety,
  • Enhance programs to prevent invasive plant pests and disease,
  • Target funding to address conservation priorities.

Here is the interesting point: Out of all these press releases, we cannot find even one that mentions the total cost of the bill. Maybe that is because it is $268 billion, and so the money for produce is less than 1% of the cost of the bill.

Of course, the industry advocates would argue that a Farm Bill would pass with or without produce industry support, and if we didn’t get “ours,” some other interest would just get more.

These industry advocates are probably correct.

But the lack of enthusiasm is understandable when “success” in government relations is basically defined in a way whereby special interests demand their bit to the detriment of the country as a whole.

And silence on real outrages is bought for the price of 1% of a bill.

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