For decades, the farm bill has been an example of a political compromise that worked.
The measure brought together rural representatives interested in agriculture and urban lawmakers concerned with the food stamp program.
That's not to say there wasn't crossover -- there are needy people who live in the country and city residents who want a healthy ag sector -- but the alliance served both sides well.
The House of Representatives is threatening to derail that relationship in an effort to make significant cuts in the nutrition assistance piece -- cuts that we think go too far.
In July, House lawmakers passed a version of the farm bill that did not include the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, more commonly called food stamps.
The idea was to take it up separately. However, splitting the bill is not popular with the national agriculture lobby or the Colorado Farm Bureau. And advocates for the food safety-net program worry it's an effort to gut food stamps.
Previous negotiations over the bill demonstrated a desire among Republicans -- who hold the majority in the House -- to cut $20 billion from the food stamp program. Meanwhile, Democrats -- who hold the Senate -- have expressed a willingness to cut $4 billion.
Unfortunately, an important deadline looms. The farm bill is set to expire Sept. 30.
And as The Denver Post's Allison Sherry reported, milk and food prices would increase if a new farm bill is not approved. That's because the nation would revert to a 1949 bill that was written for a vastly different time.
Ironically, there is not much disagreement on the agriculture portion of the farm bill. Moreover, it includes important reforms, such as ending anachronistic direct payments to farmers regardless of crop production.
Rather than tearing apart a coalition that has served the nation well, lawmakers should find a way to do what has become increasingly rare: Give a little ground and accept something that is perhaps not perfect in order to achieve a greater good.
In short, they need to compromise.
--The Denver Post, Sept. 4