A couple months ago a blogger at Delta Farm Press ran a piece about my friend and co-author Keith Coble.
It was no surprise, therefore, when earlier this year Senator Thad Cochran, R-Miss., asked Keith to come to Washington as chief economist for the minority staff of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, which Cochran serves as ranking minority member. Keith continues a line of MSU ag economists, including the university’s president Mark Keenum, who have participated in the process.
“This government shutdown has been déjà vu all over again,” said Keith, back at MSU to speak at the annual meeting of the Mississippi Agricultural Economics Association. “I was in Washington for five years before I came to MSU, including the 1995 government shutdown, when I was deemed ‘non-essential’ and told to go home and do no work. During this shutdown, I got a phone call telling me I’m essential — an upgrade from the last time — but to stay home until discussions started again.”
Keith astutely points out of the key challenges with developing a new farm bill:
And this time around, “There have been a lot more groups, and a lot different groups at the table that weren’t players 10 years ago or 20 years ago — environmental interests, food interests, etc. They’re all players now, and they do matter; it’s a very different dynamic.