Free funds for factory farms

Follow up on the recently debated farm bill. Corn subsidies, for instance, are killing us, slowly. The omnibus bill only comes up every seven years, so there's a lot of pressure to dole out the cash to the loudest lobbyists. U.S. taxpayers handed out over $131,000,000,000 since 2000. That's a lot of corn, ethanol, and houses in the Hamptons for ADM executives.

Unlikely allies take aim at federal farm subsidies --
The 742 pages of the 2007 farm bill address everything from land conservation and food stamps to school snacks and foreign aid.

But in Congress, the farm bill is really about just two things: politics and money.

And when the House passed the legislation recently, Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, said advocates of long-awaited changes -- like cutting the $26 billion that goes to direct payments for farmers -- were pushing too hard.
... The House bill passed last month despite withering criticism of the subsidies from analysts, activists and even from within government, including President Bush.

Recent news reports have highlighted how wealthy landowners have received annual six-figure government checks. Recipients included Texas oil billionaire Lee Bass and former Chicago Bulls star Scottie Pippen, who like many on the payment list are landowners, not working farmers.

Back in the 1930s, and even in the 1940s, farm subsidies made sense. I'm not sure they do anymore.

Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), who co-authored an amendment to cut subsidies, said the payments have strayed wildly from their original purpose. “If you're going to go back to this populist idea that farm subsidies are here because we need them to keep small farmers from going under and provide some sort of safety net, then we ought to be making it into a safety net and helping those who really need it,” Flake said.

The most far-reaching reform plan in the Senate comes from [Indiana Senator Richard] Lugar, who wants to kill direct and counter-cyclical payments and replace them with an insurance plan that he contends would protect 85 percent of all farmers from loss. Under the Lugar plan, farmers could also contribute to an IRA-type account to guard against losses.

[Illinois Senator Richard] Durbin also would replace the counter-cyclical payments. His plan calls for farmers to use private crop insurance on the state level, and he would calculate payments based on revenue and not just crop price.

Ha, too much money is at stake to make drastic change. Those that have gotten rich will continue, and our national health will continue to atrophy, and pundits will continue to wring their hands. Yadda yadda.

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This page contains a single entry by Seth A. published on August 13, 2007 9:16 AM.

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