The Farm Bill encompasses a big-government/big-spending program I have been working against for a while. And for those that do not live in an agricultural area, perhaps the $1Trillion price tag, or the fact that 80% of the bill involves food stamps, will pique your interest.
For those unfamiliar with the Farm Bill, Heritage has a primer on the 10 things you should know about it. It covers the basics of the program, but suffice it to say that the food stamp side promotes the progressive social welfare agenda of the Obama Administration and the farm subsidy side engenders everything wrong with the Republican party...a rather worrisome alliance of big government spenders in my mind. At the very least, the food stamps & farm subsidies should be split into their component parts, so we can work on eliminating waste & abuse in the system. Heritage also has a piece on why farm subsidies & food stamps do not belong together.
I see no reason these two programs exist in the same bill. In fact, any bill of this scope & size should be viewed with skepticism by limited-government conservatives. The only answer I seem to get is that the individual programs would have a more difficult time passing on their own. This is not an excuse to pass $1Trillion in one go, with little scrutiny as to the need for the spending by the general public!
This does not mean I dislike farmers or those who need temporary assistance from the feds. However, there is a problem when over half of this country is eligible for food stamps or when those who seek major subsidies from the feds in agriculture do not want to subject that spending to greater scrutiny. So I implore you to educate yourself on this issue, and contact your members of Congress.
I will leave you with this one-pager from Heritage Action on the Farm Bill:
What Every Taxpayer Needs to Know About the “Farm Bill”
“We will end the practice of packaging unpopular bills with ‘must-pass’ legislation to circumvent the will of the American people. Instead, we will advance major legislation one issue at a time,”
GOP Pledge to America
The House Agriculture Committee will soon consider a reauthorization of federal farm and food stamp programs. This so-called “farm” bill was considered in the 112th Congress but was blocked by widespread conservative opposition. Proponents are once again seeking to pass the legislation though Congress. While text is not yet available, press reports indicate the legislation will be substantially similar to last year’s bill.
Cost: The bill is expected to cost nearly a trillion dollars over ten years. Last year’s bill cost $957 billion over ten years. By comparison, the last farm bill, enacted in 2008, cost $604 billion. That equals a 60% increase in farm and food aid since the last reauthorization. Proponents argue that the bill will save money, but not in any real world sense. The bill includes policies that over ten years will cost 60% more than the current authorization. It is only because the Congressional Budget Office must ignore the expiration date of these programs and assume their continuation into eternity that the bill can be judged to “save” billions.
Food Stamp Nation: Roughly 80% of the bill is comprised of food stamps. This is because there are now nearly 48 million individuals on food stamps, compared with 30 million in 2008 and 17 million in 2000. One in seven Americans is now collecting food stamps. Yet, the reduction in the rate of growth to the food stamp program contemplated by the bill is expected to be miniscule, not the sort of reforms needed to roll back the program. This is one reason why most conservatives are so intent on splitting up the bill between its food stamp and farm subsidy components.
Unaffordable Subsidies: The remaining 20% of the bill is spread through 11 titles and contains lavish price supports and revenue guarantees for farmers. For instance, while the bill is expected to eliminate wasteful direct payments to farmers, it will likely plow much of those “savings” back into a new “revenue protection” entitlement program that will actually serve to guarantee the profits for a larger number of farmers than currently benefit from direct payments (thus expanding the dependency and the number of beneficiaries of future farm bills). This additional “safety net” is on top of currently subsidized crop insurance available to farms and set at current crop prices, which are at or near all-time highs. If prices normalize to their 15-year average, the cost to taxpayers will be even greater.
Violation of the GOP Pledge to America: Packaging the food stamp spending and commodity subsidies together is the definition of legislative “logrolling” that has been used for generations to shield these programs from bold reforms by securing as large a coalition of supporters as possible. The American people voted that type of legislating out of office in 2010 when House Republicans adopted the Pledge to America, which precluded the packaging of unpopular legislation together.