Yes, the “new and improved” farm bill is still chock-full of agribusiness pork

posted at 5:01 pm on June 16, 2013 by Erika Johnsen

The politics of the now completely unnecessary and economically damaging raft of oh-so-generous subsidies, payouts, and programs that the federal government affords the agriculture industry became self-perpetuating long ago, and most unfortunately, neither the Senate-passed version of the current farm bill nor the one sitting before the House are any exception to that depressing and Depression-age rule.

Supporting lawmakers and lobbyists are big fans of keeping both agriculture programs and food-stamps wedded into a single omnibus package, the easier to preserve the non-transparent nature of the whole things and throw in as many special projects and porkish handouts that they possibly can. The agribusiness lobby has evolved into a formidably powerful association with more than its fair share of political influence, and its ability to unite both Democrats and Republicans in the defense of special interests is really quite impressive; and you know the feds themselves are on board, because the Agriculture Department would be far less Busy and Important without so much taxpayer money to redistribute.

Proponents of getting these farm bills passed in are quick to point out that they are going to “save” taxpayers money by cutting out ten or twenty billion or so dollars from the budget over a decade — out of, you know, the trillion the farm bill is going to be spending over that same decade. As the Heritage Foundation points out, this is all a lot of hemming and hawing over what is a much more expensive bill than the last go-around, plain and simple:

BL-farm-bill-CBO-costs

What’s more, a lot of the much-discussed projections of savings are based on scenarios that may-or-may not materialize; Congress is looking to slim down the practice of the federal government making direct payments to farmers, because “direct payments” just sounds bad, but they’re instead going to be expanding government subsidized crop insurance to support and safeguard farmers’ incomes. It’s more of a kind of a six-of-one, half-dozen-of-another readjustment than it is a real, substantive reform, and plenty of highly niche interests are going to benefit from it as well as the many other special programs in the bills. As the WSJ points out, peanut, cotton, and sticky-rice farmers are going to be some of the big winners of the price guarantees in the bill:

The federal subsidy in the House bill guarantees farmers of Japonica Rice that if market prices drop below 115% of the average price of all types of rice, they will get a government payment to make up the difference. …

The move shines a light on guarantees against drops in commodity prices that are in some ways replacing the much-maligned direct payments to farmers Congress is seeking to end. Subsidies for products such as corn, wheat and cotton cost taxpayers about $5 billion a year. Rice growers have received a total of more than $2.6 billion in subsidies since 1995, according to the Environmental Working Group…

The sticky-rice provision won strong support from, among others, two Northern California lawmakers from neighboring districts, according to congressional aides and people working with the rice industry: Freshman Republican Rep. Doug LaMalfa, a fourth-generation Japonica Rice farmer who sits on the House agriculture committee; and Democratic Rep. John Garamendi, a rancher and pear farmer.

Price guarantees, really? Heck, why don’t we just guarantee prices for gold, running shoes, and umbrellas, while we’re at it?

This behemoth and pork-filled bill is going to be directing a full decade’s worth of federal policy, but it’s going to fly on through under the radar to the tune of a trillion dollars paying for all kinds of miscellaneous programs, like expanding expanding broadband in rural communities and cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay; it’s nothing short of a raging party funded by the taxpayer’s dime, and everybody’s invited!


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We can’t be broke – the Fed can still print more money (or create it with a keystroke).

platypus on June 16, 2013 at 5:05 PM

Darked

DarkCurrent on June 16, 2013 at 5:06 PM

So, we have to grant amnesty to 20 million illegals so they can pay fines to build a border fence, but we have a spare trillion dollars laying around ?

darwin on June 16, 2013 at 5:11 PM

I thought rape was illegal … unless it’s the taxpayer getting raped, then it’s A-OK!

darwin on June 16, 2013 at 5:13 PM

“We’re for less government!” -GOP

EddieC on June 16, 2013 at 5:23 PM

Why hasn’t Hot Air commented on Palin’s speech? It’s not as if it did not gain traction across much of the media.

callingallcomets on June 16, 2013 at 5:23 PM

Wow, I sure would like government guarantees for our small business!

This is just flat out wrong. I still don’t understand why farming is subsidized at so many turns? If there is a bad crop year, money and subsidies are provided. That seems awfully discriminatory to all the other family-owned businesses in this nation which don’t receive that preferential treatment.

Please realize, to those of you who farm, I don’t say that to be rude or disrespectful.. I realize it is a difficult business, sometimes a 24 hour a day job. I don’t take what you do very lightly at all. However, it just seems wrong to me that some people are bailed out and others are not, for their choice of business ownership. If the rainfall is terrible one year, subsidies arrive for the owners. If we am lose business to (foreign subsidized) importers (which we are), I receive no subsidy or bailout. The attitude is “sink or swim”.

It just doesn’t seem right.

herm2416 on June 16, 2013 at 5:28 PM

“We’re for less government!” -GOP

EddieC on June 16, 2013 at 5:23 PM

“We’re for less government but love gigantic trillion dollar boondoggle farm bills!

P.S. and amnesty !!!”

- Vote GOP !!!!!

darwin on June 16, 2013 at 5:35 PM

the REAL and unanswered question is WHAT % of the increase from 2008 is food stamps. Separating the 2 will reveal what is REALLY happening with the “farm” part of the bill. There has been a huge increase in food users up to 48 million in March of this year. Look at this:
2011 44,709,000 $133.85
2000 17,194,000 $76.62

That’s the growth in USERS of food stamps and the monthly benefit them from 2000 compared to 2011. The $$ amount for 2011 was $71.8 BILLION then and we now have 4 million more on stamps than 2 years ago….which probably works out to another $8 billion…so call food stamps an $80 billion dollar program.
Thus it seems like about 800 billion of the approximately 950 billion $$ Ag bill is Food Stamps…and actual per year agricultural subsidies are around $15 billion a year.
I’m all for eliminating all $15 billion…but the BIG increase is coming from food stamps…both in how many people get them…and how much we give each person. THAT is where we need some savings!

camaraderie on June 16, 2013 at 5:43 PM

Buying a Porsche on a Buick budget…we truly have only one party–the Spendocraticans! SHAMEFUL.

hillsoftx on June 16, 2013 at 6:07 PM

“We’re for just a little bit less growth in government than the Rats!” -GOP

EddieC on June 16, 2013 at 5:23 PM

ReWrite™ engaged for accuracy.

Steve Eggleston on June 16, 2013 at 6:08 PM

The sticky-rice provision won strong support from, among others, two Northern California lawmakers from neighboring districts, according to congressional aides and people working with the rice industry: Freshman Republican Rep. Doug LaMalfa, a fourth-generation Japonica Rice farmer who sits on the House agriculture committee; and Democratic Rep. John Garamendi, a rancher and pear farmer

…and the freshman Republican probably got into office declaring people should vote for him…because HE was for less government?

KOOLAID2 on June 16, 2013 at 6:09 PM

Thanks for posting this topic Erika!

Amazing coincidence: I about ten minutes after I read the thread, I got an email from my Congresscritter asking for my thoughts on the Farm Bill.

Armed with the details found above, Boy, did I tell him my opinion.

LegendHasIt on June 16, 2013 at 6:12 PM

Almost a Trillion over ten years?
Well, that’s what, a tenth of the budget deficit?
Ax the whole thing. If the states want to subsidize their farmer, let them do it.

Count to 10 on June 16, 2013 at 6:18 PM

I’m all for eliminating all $15 billion…but the BIG increase is coming from food stamps…both in how many people get them…and how much we give each person. THAT is where we need some savings!

If we’re going to legalize another 12 million illegals and their families, the current and projected food stamp budget ain’t going to cut it.

lowandslow on June 16, 2013 at 6:23 PM

I am involved in the Agriculture Industry and am as much of a proponent of free market as anybody. This, as most previous farm bills has nothing to do with Agriculture. If you look at the breakdown a tiny portion goes to farmers, the great majority goes to Welfare, food stamps. The portion that goes to farmers deals mostly with crop insurance and areas to make sure if something catastrophic happens they can continue without losing their farms to large corporations or foreign owned entities. I don’t know any farmers that are getting rich off of the taxpayer.

cat-scratch on June 16, 2013 at 6:42 PM

I don’t know any farmers that are getting rich off of the taxpayer.

Bullsh*t.

lowandslow on June 16, 2013 at 6:45 PM

“I don’t know any farmers that are getting rich off of the taxpayer.”

I guess you don’t know about the tobacco payoffs in NC then. Pay you not to plant…pay you a big settlement not to plant – and you keep the land.

celt on June 16, 2013 at 8:30 PM

The whole game is about avoiding responsibility and pocketing cash.

Take an example — if the airports and airlines had taken responsibility for air security on 9/11, a couple of them would have been sued out of existence — and a polite, cost-effective, risk-based, thorough, and effective security system would be in place today. Instead, the media/government and airlines said it was all a Federal problem, quashed the lawsuits, and created the TSA. Now, every time the TSA fails to actually keep things secure with their ongoing Kabuki, they respond by demanding more money and privileges.

Compare this with the FDA. If people getting food poisoning led to major lawsuits, it just wouldn’t happen. Instead, it results in a big run-around, an FDA “investigation”, a slap on the wrist for the food producer, and calls for more FDA investigators.

Article I, section 8 of the Constitution says that the US Government is responsible for a lot of things….agriculture and food ain’t on the list.

cthulhu on June 16, 2013 at 8:31 PM

I don’t know any farmers that are getting rich off of the taxpayer.

I do. In Iowa. My cousins, They aren’t necessarily getting rich, but they aren’t close to being poor either. Those that are in on the ethanol subsidy and anything else they can get federal funds for growing, or not growing. Most were happy to vote along generally dem lines because thats who Santa Claus was and mostly still is with some Republicans happy to spread their share to constituents.

I was last in Iowa in 2008, but taking a look at their farm homes and accessories, they didn’t seem to be suffering then, and probably not now.

But I’m sure the GOP can get them back with more pork. Those Iowans do love their pork! :)

Heck, our farmers and our ag is far more important than a useless border fence. And we need those fines and back taxes from amnesty seekers to keep those farmers in federal subsidies.

/s

hawkeye54 on June 16, 2013 at 10:34 PM

Article I, section 8 of the Constitution says that the US Government is responsible for a lot of things….agriculture and food ain’t on the list.

Yup. The US Gubmint has taken way more responsibilities for far more than the Constitution strictly states. And we, the voters, have let it.

hawkeye54 on June 16, 2013 at 10:36 PM

I don’t know any farmers that are getting rich off of the taxpayer.

cat-scratch on June 16, 2013 at 6:42 PM

Then you’re not looking hard enough. Ethanol subsidies are making farmers rich by inflating prices. Even the small farmer is driving his new diesel Ford truck out to his brand new JD equipment. He’ll drive past his new pole buildings and bins on the way… He’s got to hurry though so he can spend some time plowing more ground under – every last fence line and pasture has to have corn in it! That’s where the $$ is!

AND that same farmer has probably been looking at supplementing his energy usage by installing a new turbine. Heck, they’re almost free after the subsidies! (Only downside is that they’re all Chinese and it’s going to cost him 10 grand to repair when the motor goes out in a year.)

The farm bills always remind me of seniors – another block that generally thinks we need to be more responsible, but also insists that we don’t touch any of their government money. “Yep – those idiots in DC are always spending money like crazy! They need to get it together – but they darn well better not cut my _______.”

Free Indeed on June 17, 2013 at 9:32 AM