Thursday, September 5, 2013
I Am Born. Okay, this isn't David Copperfield and I'm not Charles Dickens
We're a little more prosaic and a lot more public issues-oriented. Mainly these are issues that affect South Dakotans, either from within the state or from outside if bigger policy issues will have some real effect on South Dakotans. My first order of business is the impasse over the Farm Bill in Congress. A large number of Republicans want to strip the bill's food stamp component (accounting for about 80% of the bill's cost) and consider that as a separate item. That makes a certain amount of sense. Food stamps can be seen as a social welfare program within a much larger circle of entitlements that go to lower-income groups. But there's another way to look at food stamps, and that's from a perspective of how they affect the agricultural sector in this country. By making food cheaper and more readily accessible, they increase demand for the products that constitute the lion's share of South Dakota's economy. My take is that the food stamp program merits plenty of scrutiny from overseers like the Congressional Budget Office and General Accounting Office and should be tightened up as necessary, but making it a separate item in the overall budget will only politicize the issue and each time it comes up for re-authorization the political footballs will fly, creating much uncertainly within the agricultural production communities in this country.