Tea Party has changed the Farm Bill debate in ways many in agriculture are not even thinking about.
The Tea Party has a lot of its strength from rural areas. Rural areas get the majority of farm Bill monetary benefits.
Conservative Republicans have always been against spending big dollars on benefits of all kinds, but have been caught between a rock and a hard place when it comes to the farm bill. Rural areas do not like to spend “welfare” money, but farmers and rural people do not necessarily look at farm payments and things like ethanol subsidies as “welfare payments”.
Between the Progressive liberals which can defeat or weaken most democrats in their primaries and Tea Party Republicans that can defeat or weaken most republicans in their primary, politics is being drawn out to the ends, not the middle. Not that this is necessarily bad, the people of the United States need to decide what they are, socialists like Europe or Free Market, Freedom loving people that this country was for its first 150 years.
The “middle” is losing ground which is not good for USDA funding, note I did not say bad for agriculture, just bad for USDA funding. The middle is where things for years was done – but people in the middle did not always survive. They did it for the greater good. But, starting with the liberal republicans and then to the “blue dog” democrats the middle went into protection mode. All for the benefit of itself not for the country.
Now with the Tea Party on the right and liberal groups, such as the Environmental Working Group on the far left, it will be interesting how and with what elected officials come up with for a farm bill in the next 2 to 3 years.