Saturday, November 30, 2013

Noem, protecting school lunches, but not the farmers that provide for them.

This thanksgiving, I was able to reflect a lot of what I have to be thankful for.  I have two wonderful boys, a beautiful wife, I enjoy my job, I have a great group of young students on the debate team, wonderful neighbors, and so much more.  As I was partaking in my grandmother's turkey, stuffing, and gravy, I was thankful to be able to share such wonderful food with family.  Many people were unable to do so, thanks to Kristi Noem and the GOP, because they believe that people that are hungry must prove that they need assistance and drug test to prove that they do not abuse the good taxpayers money.
Kristi Noem, R-S.D., said, “Loopholes and fraud … have led to federal spending on SNAP to increase” (Noem has received $503,000 in farm subsidies).
What she did not tell you is that those requirements may be good for SNAP participants, but not for those that receive crop insurance.  
One subsidy lawmakers want to revise is crop insurance—a program designed to protect farmers and ranchers from volatile weather and market forces. Unlike traditional farm subsidies, however, crop insurance is not subject to means testing, payment limits, and conservation requirements, but reformers think it should be. 
None of this may matter since it appears that Kristi is failing on another promise to be a major player and getting that pesky Farm Bill done on time.  She is trying to shift focus to making the USDA changes in the requirements for meat and grain for school lunches permanent.  
The bill, "Reducing Federal Mandates on School Lunch Act," Noem said, gives flexibility to schools to help ensure kids get the nutrition they need to be healthy. 
Though specifics on the bill are not yet available, it is supported by another school lunch critic, the National School Boards Association. 
Broadly, the bill is expected to make the USDA's temporary easing of the meat and grain requirements permanent, allowing schools more flexibility in serving meats and grains while still staying within calorie maximums, and give administrators flexibility on some of the rules that have increased costs for school districts.
This is a good idea in my opinion.  I am glad that she is helping push for this, but it does not trump a Farm Bill that will have a much larger impact on hungry children.  The cuts that she wants in the program will have a much larger impact on children's hunger.  The cuts by the sequestration have had a much larger impact on helping feed children.  She is silent on those issues.  

She may be quiet in part because it looks like she has failed to deliver on a farm bill again this year.
Congress left Washington on Nov. 22 for Thanksgiving without reaching agreement on a new farm bill, leaving in question whether the bill will be finished before the end of the calendar year. 
The four principal negotiators — House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., who is chairing the conference, House Agriculture ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and Senate Agriculture ranking member Thad Cochran, R-Miss., met three times on Nov. 20 and 21, and there were signs of an agreement, but they finally gave up for the week.
 I am thankful for the hard work our farmers do.  I am thankful that my children have food to eat.  It is time that both farmers and our children have a Congressperson that will work to actually get something done for them.

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