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MSNBC "The Ed Show" - Transcript - Farm Bill

Interview

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SCHULTZ: Wow! It looks like we`re making the wrong stuff or dishing it out wrong!

The farm bill, for a little history, was started in 1933 on the heels of the depression. To make sure that every American was always going to have a steady supply of affordable food on the table. It`s called a cheap food policy. And let me remind you what happens when governments don`t pay attention to their feeding of the people, food shortages in Europe during the 1930s, led to an extremist coming to power interesting rise of the madman. You know the rest of the story.

You see, America made a decision then that we needed a cheap food policy. But as it has evolved today, corporations have corrupted the system to the point where big agribusiness has put dangerous, unhealthy food on the counters in grocery stores across America and it ends up on our tables.The small farmer bottom line is getting kicked off the land and reach farmers are reaping the huge profits. So, this concept of a cheap food policy, I`m all for. It`s very important.

But let`s not distort the priorities. I`m for safety nets. I`m for disaster relief.

I believe that price supports have got to be there for the American producer. But it is evolved to nothing but a corporate handout. The big get bigger or the family farmer can`t make it.

That`s wrong. We have wrong policies put in this farm bill and it has also been set up ideologically where the Republicans going out and say, we made cuts. We`ve cut all the fat.

Yes, you have. You`ve cut some fat and you didn`t do it by going after the corporations. You didn`t do it by going after big agribusiness. You gave them more money while you took away the food stamp program, to the tune of $20 billion in the House?

Why did the Senate Democrats even consider giving up $4 billion in food stamp cuts? What about the nutritional value of the farm program in this country, the farm bill, which has kids come to school in at least once a day get something good to eat? Do we care about the inner cities in America anymore?

I`ll tell you what, distorted priorities, you can find them everywhere in America. But I don`t want to hear any Tea Partiers just screaming about government spending. When we are about to put on the table, $955 billion over the next 10 years that will go right to the corporations and right to the wealthy, while we stick it to the poor. And oh, by the way, as I said, it is bigger than the stimulus package which of course the Tea Party hated. It is bigger than Obamacare which all Republicans hate.

You`d be the judge. Is this fair? Is this the right way to go? This is wrong.

But you see, when we`re focused on "A.P.", and we`re focused on FBI, and we`re focused on Benghazi, stuff like this, almost a trillion dollars just kind of slips through the cracks.

Get your cell phones out. I want to know what you think. Tonight`s question is, is government welfare for big agribusiness bad for America? Text A for yes, text B for no, to 67622. You can always go to our blog at Ed.MSNBC.com. We`ll bring you the results later on in the show. For more on this, let`s turn to independent senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders. Senator, great to have with us tonight. I appreciate it.

This is a parallel to what we`re seeing in tax policy, I believe, Senator, that we are favoring the wealthy again and sticking it to the little guy and hurting American families who desperately need that cheap food policy. Senator, put it together for us. Where can we correct this? Your thoughts?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: Ed, I appreciate very much that you are focusing on something that we don`t talk enough about. That is poverty in America is at almost a 50-year high. We have 46 million people living in poverty. We have the highest rate of childhood poverty in the industrialized world.

We have millions of seniors today who are wondering how they`re going to be eating tomorrow and they suffer illness as a result. So when you have a declining middle class and people fall into poverty, when you have real wages going down for millions of Americans. What you end up with is a real need for food on behalf of millions and millions of children and seniors.

Let`s be clear. Most of the families that receive food stamps have kids. Many of them are working families and many others are senior citizens. Those are the people who get food stamps. And we have got to decide in this country, at a time when we`re seeing outrageous wealth and income inequality. Rich people doing fence phenomenally well, middle class disappearing, poverty terribly high.

Are we going to make certain that nobody in this great country goes hungry or are we going to do as the Republicans want, make massive cuts in food stamp programs, nutrition programs for seniors and other programs? And I think the answer is pretty obvious. The American people understand that in this great country, people should not go hungry.

SCHULTZ: No question about it, no doubt about it. But what we are seeing here is distorted priorities? The Tea party all of a sudden, they`re silent.

They have no problem with these billions of dollars going to big agribusiness, and all of the wealth going to the wealthiest farmers who are out there. While the little guy gets kicked in the side of the road along with the recipients of food stamps.

There is no fat in food stamps as I see it. There is no fat in school nutritional programs which is needed by of course, the portion of the population you`re talking about.

Senator, how do we fix this? What would be the correct move?

SANDERS: Well, the correct, it seems to me, are two basic issues. Number one, as a nation, we have got to defend the social safety net, and understand that we cannot allow a situation to exist where kids or seniors go hungry. But that`s not just food stamps, Ed. As you and I talked many times, that is Social Security, that`s Medicare, that`s Medicaid.

But protecting the social safety net so that people do not go hungry in America is one thing. The other thing is, we have to deal with the poverty issue. And how do you deal with that. You deal with it by creating millions and millions of decent-paying jobs. You`ve got to put people back to work. Real unemployment today is closed to 14 percent.

That`s rebuild our infrastructure, transform our energy system, put millions of people back to work. Give them a paycheck. Most working people would rather have paycheck than be on food stamps.

SCHULTZ: Senator, I want to focus now on GMOs. Your amendment to let states label GMOs, genetically modified organisms was voted down. Why don`t more senators get on board with this recognizing the danger involved here?

SANDERS: Well, here`s what the story is. I think all over this country, I could tell you, it`s certainly true in Vermont, people want to know the quality of the food they`re eating and what they`re giving to their kids is good quality. We just don`t know all that much about genetically modified food.

So, my amendment was a pretty conservative amendment. It said in states like Vermont and Connecticut and other states where legislatures are voting for labeling on food products that have GMO product, let them go forward.

Now, Monsanto and the other companies saying states can`t do it. It is a federal prerogative. My amendment said if California, Vermont, Connecticut, other states want to go forward, they should have the right. What we know, Ed, is that all over Europe, we`ve got dozens and dozens of
countries which do label GMO products. We should be able to do that in the United States as well.

SCHULTZ: Senator Bernie Sanders, always great to have you with us on THE ED SHOW. Appreciate you being here tonight. Thank you so much.

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