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David Heinrich, Published December 12 2010

Critic of 2008 farm bill short on facts and without credibility

In response to Alan Roebke’s misleading criticism of the 2008 farm bill in the Dec. 5 Forum:

In his commentary, “We need to be honest about the real cost of the 2008 farm bill,” Roebke incorrectly argues that the 2008 farm bill “added to the nation’s deficit.”

This is completely false. When the 2008 farm bill passed in May of that year, the Congressional Budget Office – the nonpartisan accountants of Congress – said it would save taxpayers more than $100 million over 10 years. I found this fact with a simple Google search that took me to http://www.CBO.gov.

While on Google, I also decided to punch in the letter-writer’s name – Alan Roebke. Turns out Roebke is a convicted felon who defrauded U.S. farm programs. According to a Crookston (Minn.) Times article and a Minnesota Public Radio report from September 2008, Roebke served time in a federal prison for selling grain that belonged to the government. Needless to say, not only is the author wrong about his facts on the farm bill, he is far from credible.

As for his claims of “ballooning” food stamp costs, Roebke again leaves out some very important information, namely the recent economic collapse.

When the farm bill passed in May 2008, unemployment was at 5.4 percent. Today, it is 9.8 percent. Participation was about 28 million people in May 2008. Now, in a teetering economy, there are more than 42 million people on food stamps. It doesn’t take a degree in advanced mathematics to figure out that as more of our friends and neighbors lose their jobs, they will need help buying food. This alone can easily explain why the cost of the food stamp program has gone up.

In this season of sharing, I find it hard to understand how thoughtless some people can be. Forty-two million people in this country will not have as good a Christmas as they could have, through no fault of their own, for the most part.

We need to look at all sides of an issue before we start to tear it apart. Roebke, on the other hand, seems to be advocating that even if conditions change requiring more citizens to need a helping hand, we should only spend what was originally projected and leave millions of American families hungry. Good plan, Mr. Roebke. Good plan.