What that means to Missouri is that Frank Lucas (R-OK) who is the committee chairman and Collin Peterson (D-MN) who is the ranking member on the House side and, on the Senate side, chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (Michigan) and ranking member Pat Roberts (Kansas) will be calling the shots in the bill that will govern our food system for the next 5-10 years. Even Missouri's only House ag committee member, Vicky Hartzler is shut out, along with the rest of us Americans not represented by industrial ag lobbyists.
The Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, as the "super committee" is more properly known, was given a single task and it is right in its name - to reduce the federal deficit. But somehow their duties have expanded to include passing the farm bill as well - just the farm bill. No other committee is attempting to pass its legislation via this secretive process-not transportation, not judiciary, not housing and urban development- just the agriculture committee.
The Farm Bill is the bill that impacts the food we eat, how it is produced and how much we pay for it and it also affects whether one in six Americans have enough to eat at all. It is NOT a bill that should be decided in secret with input only from agriculture industry lobbyists because all Americans eat.
If the "super committee" incorporates the Farm Bill into their proposal, it will enter a legislative black hole and the results aren't likely to strengthen America's food system.
It is not too late to derail this process which is designed to exclude input from the overwhelming bulk of legislators, citizens, conservationists, hunters, anglers, and anyone interested in improving the food system as well as virtually all farmers. It sidelines everyone except a select elite from industrial agriculture with huge checkbooks and DC lobbyists who push for increased subsidies that benefit a couple dozen rich corporations and a tiny percent of farms while they gut farm conservation and food programs and policies.
Commentary by Kat Logan, director, Missouri Coalition for the Environment