It’s death by a thousand cuts for small-farm Bessie.Photo: Wade FasanoLate on Thursday, the House of Representatives passed the Department of Agriculture’s appropriations bill for the next fiscal year. In their zeal to slash spending, House Republicans approved $7 billion less for the department than President Obama requested, cuting out worldwide hunger programs, settlement payments to Brazilian cotton farmers, and a popular “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” initiative that connected local farmers with their schools and other food programs in their communities.
But a tiny $2 million cut might hurt small farmers the most. The bill also stops the USDA from finishing an effort that would help small farmers who contract with big meatpacking companies like Tyson, Smithfield and Cargill. It blocks the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA), which would have gotten that $2 million boost under Obama’s requested budget, from using any money to finish a three-year-long effort to rewrite the rules that govern grain and meat markets. Those final rules were due to be issued soon, and putting the process on hold doesn’t hav... Read more