Ad-Express and Daily Iowegian, Centerville, IA

Columns

September 10, 2013

Agriculture key to American prosperity

As the heat index rises along the Potomac, it’s easy to understand why ice cream was a favored treat at Mount Vernon, the home of America’s first president. In addition to his presidency and military service, the life and legacy of George Washington is rooted in farming. An innovative steward of the land, Washington understood the importance of agriculture to America’s prosperity.

The founding father of our country invented a 16-sided treading barn and tested crop rotation, fertilizers and livestock breeding to improve productivity.

American agriculture has changed dramatically since the late 18th century, from modern conservation practices to 21st century tools, technologies and techniques.

Consider a recent example of government cluelessness by the Environmental Protection Agency. It disclosed personal information earlier this year of more than 80,0000 livestock and poultry producers to environmental activist groups, including information regarding an Iowan who owned just one pig and another who owned 12 horses. Washington needs to put away the sledgehammer when a hammer and nail would suffice. By introducing legislation to rein in the EPA from trampling on farmers’ privacy rights, I’m giving regulators a piece of my mind to bring greater peace of mind to family farmers. Let’s not forget the fruits of a farmer’s labor takes away the pangs of hunger for people in our hometown and global communities. Once again, it’s necessary to inject a dose of common sense to treat Washington nonsense.

Speaking of Washington nonsense, action on the $950 billion farm bill has stalled yet again despite a 12-month extension that Congress gave itself last year. Congress typically renews the farm bill every five or so years.

Over the years, the farm and food bill has snowballed in size and scope and today subsidizes farmers earning more than $1 million a year, including loopholes that allow off-site, non-farmers to qualify for farm payments. Taxpayers also now spend $80 billion annually on food assistance for nearly one in seven Americans. An all-time high 47 million people are receiving benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program as eligibility requirements have expanded. Many Americans likely don’t realize 80 percent of the money authorized under the umbrella of the farm bill pays for nutrition programs like food stamps, not farm programs.

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The Iowegian wants readers to think about rental permit fees. The Centerville City Council has conducted two working sessions and a third one is planned in order to get a feel for the public's appetite about raising rental permit fees from charging a landlord $25 every two years to charging a certain amount per rental unit per year. So, the question of the week is, "Are you in favor of Centerville increasing rental permit fees?"

A. I'm in favor.
B. I'm not in favor.
C. I'm not sure.
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