ON the stump, professor Barry Flinchbaugh plays as an enthralling mix of equal parts prophet and irascible coot. The Kansas State University economist is one of the nation’s foremost authorities on federal farm policy, but speaking about the foibles of Congress and the administration, you could easily picture him either delivering the Commandments from Mount Sinai or yelling at kids to get off his lawn.
In truth, the professor seems to feed off that persona, cracking jokes with his audience in one breath and condemning a Congress he famously said should be “too damn embarrassed to go back home to their districts.”
His rural audiences eat it up.
For several decades, Flinchbaugh has had the ear of senators and statesmen, and is now one of the more well known practitioners of his craft, which might best be described as a mix of economics and political prognostication.
In a presentation earlier this month to the American Bankers Association, he gave Washington a “50/50 shot” of passing a Farm Bill before the next budget crisis befalls the nation, early next year. He also said that House Speaker John Boehner likely had the “toughest job in the world,” and that left to their own devices, the Ohio Congressman and titular leader of the Republican Party would have hammered out a “grand bargain” on the federal deficit way back in 2011.
With partisan tensions seeming to grow in the nation’s capital on an almost ongoing basis, it is perhaps little wonder that audiences are most generally eating out of the aging oracle’s hand by the time he’s finished a 45-minute primer on why a particular bill will or will not pass, and why the “wingnuts” in Washington – a non-partisan term in Flinchaugh’s lexicon used to deride extremists of both parties – have broken a system of government that worked for more than 220 years.
Listen to agricultural economist Barry Flinchbaugh discuss the outlook for farm policy in 2014, including his expectations for passing a Farm Bill and rectifying the current federal budget situation, in a special Outlook edition of the Feedstuffs In Focus podcast. The “sage of Manhattan, Kansas” also talks about the political divisiveness prevalent in Washington, and how reasonable leaders like House Speaker John Boehner can right the proverbial ship.
The Nov. 11 edition features Feedstuffs’ annual special Outlook report and the podcast series will focus on a different piece of the outlook puzzle each day this week: