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Bob Kuylen, South Heart, N.D., Published July 13 2013

Letter: Hold nutrition title in farm bill

By There is an effort underway on Capitol Hill to pull the nutrition title from the farm bill. If that happens, we may not get a farm bill at all.

Of the 12 titles in the bill, nutrition or food stamps make up 80 percent of the bill’s spending. The connection between growing food and feeding people is obvious, and that tie needs to stay in place. For decades, new farm bills have passed on a bipartisan basis through a strong urban-rural coalition. There is clout in numbers. Separating farm programs from nutrition programs will virtually silence the voice of family farmers and ranchers, who comprise only 2 percent of the population.

The need to keep the nutrition title in the farm bill goes far beyond political strategy. It is about basic education. It is rural America’s opportunity to connect the dots in farm-to-table and farm-to-fuel concepts that consumers, taxpayers and the hungry understand. Those concepts support a family farm and ranch system that leads to a robust economy, a stronger rural America and energy-independent nation.

Food isn’t anything new. Educating Americans on how food gets to their table and who grows it is important. (That’s one reason why North Dakota Farmers Union has three farmer-owned restaurants in the Washington, D.C., area.) Knowledge is power. Nutrition programs need to remain in the farm bill for a healthy and strong America.


Kuylen is vice president, North Dakota Farmers Union.