Commentary: Playing the Part of the Political Pawn, Yet Again

first_imgHome Commentary Commentary: Playing the Part of the Political Pawn, Yet Again Facebook Twitter After 3 years of listening to farmers and 3 days of floor debate, the U.S. House voted down a new Farm  Bill. The surprise defeat had nothing to do with what was in the bill, but had to do with political grandstanding by a group of 30 lawmakers known as the Freedom Caucus. This small, radical group has made immigration their one and only issue and will block any legislation until the House deals with their issue. House Speaker Paul Ryan has also engaged in some political grandstanding by forcing a Republican-only Farm Bill through committee, insuring he would have no Democratic support on the floor. A more bipartisan approach might have been able to neutralize the impact of the Freedom Caucus. By Gary Truitt – May 20, 2018 So now farmers face the prospect of no new NAFTA agreement, no new deal with China to avert a 25% tariff on U.S. soybeans, no action of making E-15 saleable  year round, no permanent fix to the WOTUS rule, and no new Farm Bill with a safety net to help producers manage risk. The current Farm Bill is set to expire on September 30. The defeat in the House makes it likely that deadline will not be reached. SHARE Today, as farmers face critical financial hardships, overreaching government regulations, and international trade disputes that take profits out of their pockets, limit their growth potential, and threaten their future, Washington is more interested in political posturing and social ideology than in taking  action to address the needs of American agriculture. Facebook Twittercenter_img Previous articleU.S. and China Trade War on Hold; China Pledges to Buy More U.S. ProductsNext articleIndiana Farm Leaders Support House Farm Bill Gary Truitt In the last election, we saw that rural America can have an impact on the political process. We need that kind of attitude now to insist that we are no longer ignored.By Gary Truitt SHARE The history of American agriculture is full of examples of the federal government taking action to threaten the financial livelihoods of farmers. For example, there was the tax of 1791. The so-called “whiskey tax” was the first tax imposed on a domestic product by the newly formed federal government and was intended to generate revenue for the war debt incurred during the Revolutionary War. The tax applied to all distilled spirits. Farmers of the western frontier were accustomed to distilling their surplus rye, barley, wheat, corn, or fermented grain mixtures into whiskey. These farmers resisted the tax.  President Washington sent in the army to force compliance with the tax. Fast forward to the next century and to the financial crisis of 1873. Falling crop prices, increases in railroad fees to ship crops, and Congress’s reduction of paper money in favor of gold and silver devastated farmers’ livelihoods and caused the birth of the Grange movement. Grangers gave their support to reform-minded groups such as the Greenback Party, the Populist Party, and, eventually, the Progressives. While the movement had many notable accomplishments, their two main objectives — better regulation of railroads and grain elevators — went largely unrealized.  And, let’s not forget the Carter grain embargo in 1980, which took a robust farm economy and turned it upside down — virtually overnight. Farmers had been promised an “on-time” delivery of the Farm Bill by GOP leadership. This in contrast to the last the last Farm Bill which was voted down by the House over the issue of food stamp reform. While there have been changes in the House and the White House in the past 4 years, that has not changed is the willingness to ignore the needs of agriculture and use farmers as political pawns. Commentary: Playing the Part of the Political Pawn, Yet Againlast_img read more

Ocean City Mayor Touts “Monumental” Land Deal

first_imgBy MADDY VITALEOcean City has completed its “monumental” acquisition of a block of land that will be preserved as open space.The city fought for over two years to purchase privately owned land that once served as the location for a car dealership, with the goal of preserving and protecting it from a proposed densely packed housing development.“This is a monumental win for the Ocean City taxpayers,” Mayor Jay Gillian said Monday. “It’s an extremely rare opportunity to be able to protect that much open space. I’m looking forward to the next steps.”With the acquisition of that parcel, a five-block area from 15th Street to 20th Street will now be dedicated to public use. It will stretch from Emil Palmer Park to the Ocean City Community Center, to the tennis and pickleball courts, to the Ocean City Intermediate School, the mayor explained.“The short-term plans for the summer will be to clean up the property and make it look nice for the neighborhood,” Gillian said. “In the fall, the city will schedule a town hall meeting and provide other opportunities to solicit ideas from the public for long-term plans. It will remain open space, but the city would be looking for suggestions for how the area can best be used and enjoyed by all.”The former owners wanted to put dense housing on the tract.The city used its power of eminent domain to seize the property from land owners Jerry and Harry Klause, of Klause Enterprises, when an agreement couldn’t be reached. The Klause brothers had wanted to build a 22-unit housing development on the site before the city stepped in to acquire the land.In addition to the former Perry-Egan car lot, which has since been demolished, leaving a vacant tract adjacent to the Community Center, the city purchased two nearby parcels rounding out the block bordered by 16th and 17th streets between Simpson and Haven avenues.Those two parcels were formerly controlled by Palmer Center LLC, a group owned by John Flood, a real estate developer and former city councilman.The city had offered $3.1 million to buy the Palmer Center property at 109 16th Street. The land is currently vacant, but has been approved for housing development. In addition, the city had offered $2.5 million for more piece of Palmer Center land at 1600 Haven Avenue.City Council approved a total $12.5 million funding package in 2020 for all of the land owned by Klause Enterprises and Palmer Center LLC.“The final cost is still to be determined by the court, and there are issues still to be resolved. But the property is ours. I look forward to developing short and long term plans for the public to use the area,” Gillian said in a statement on March 26.He continued, “It has been a long process, and I want to thank City Council and all of the city team members who helped make this happen. Everybody will benefit from seeing this land preserved as open space.”The former Perry-Egan Chevrolet dealership showroom has since been demolished. The city will use this property bordered by 16th and 17th Streets between Haven and Simpson avenues for open space.last_img read more