Drug Testing for Farmers?


According to the National Conference of State Legislators, at least twelve states have passed legislation regarding drug testing or screening for public assistance applicants or recipients.  As of February 19, 2015, that list included Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Utah.  This year the concept has also made an appearance at some of our regional legislatures.
Dr. Barry Flinchbaugh, Professor Emeritus with Kansas State University, explained in a recent interview with Haylie Shipp that the issue is not so cut and dry.  If we’re going to require a drug test for that sort of tax-funded assistance, where do the requirements end?  Subsidized student loans?  Health insurance assistance?  Farm Payments?
“That is not a laughing matter,” said Flinchbaugh.  Rather, the reality of attaching a drug test to a farm program payment has already been brought up in Washington, D.C.  It came from staunch opposition to the idea that food stamp recipients should be subject to such screening.
“The opposition to that said if my constituents have to take a drug test to get food stamps,” stated Flinchbaugh about an urban member of Congress talking to a rural congressman, “your constituents are going to have to take a drug test to get crop insurance, farm programs, and conservation payments.”  Planning on putting your land in CRP?  You could then be eligible for a drug test under this argument!
While admitting that some of these ideas sound borderline ridiculous, Flinchbaugh says we live in a democracy and this is how it works.  What’s more, he adds that we are very near a similar battle when it comes to the current budget.

“You tell farmers they got to get a drug test to get crop insurance, they look at you like you’re nuts,” said Flinchbaugh.  But, he added, “that’s politics.”



© Haylie Shipp 2015

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