There’s an old saying in politics: Never waste a crisis, even if it’s one of your own making. That certainly seems to be the case with the 2018 Farm Bill. Now that it’s finally passed, the glad-handing and back-slapping have commenced. By all accounts, the bill is a pretty good final product. But let’s not forget: this congress did what no other congress has done. It let America’s farmers dangle for months as policymakers monkeyed around with a bill that affects Montana’s entire agricultural economy.

Don’t get us wrong. We are happy to finally see it finally make its way to the president’s desk. We’re just wondering why it took this long.

Congress had two years to get this done. Despite ample amount of time, the farm bill expired this past September. When it expired, funding for the conservation programs was gone and farm commodity programs reverted back to laws from the 30s and 40s, an era when wool wasn’t even included in commodity support.  

And it’s not like Montanans weren’t already sweating. Compared to the average amount of uncertainty ranchers and farmers deal with (which is a lot), this past year has been a doozie,  dominated by trade wars, tariffs, NAFTA renegotiations, bad bank notes, low prices, and high costs.

Congress is broken. There’s little doubt about that. But it doesn’t have to be. If our politicians tapped the same elements of civility and kindness that we expect of our neighbors, this type of rocky policy effort would be a thing of the past. Right now, our politicians are playing the blame game while we suffer the consequences.  

Once again, politics seems to trump the health of our lands and our economy. And that’s a shame. While the legislation that finally passed in these final hours of the 115th Congress is a win for Montanans, the drama and uncertainty that proceeded it is a loss for everyone.

So yes, it looks like the farm bill will be signed into law before the end of the year.  

All we’ve got to say is,

What took so long? 

Andie Creel

Feature photo of a hay carvan near Jordon taken by August Schield. 

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