RE: The Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012 (AKA: the Farm Bill) is working its way to the House floor for a vote. The total estimated cost of the bill is almost a trillion dollars! In 2008 a similar bill cost $604 billion-over a 50% increase in just four years. Speaker Boehner voted against farm bills in 2002 and 2008-this year’s bill is even worse.
ISSUE-in-BRIEF: In a free society, we should not be protecting and shielding one industry, when others are expected to take risk and absorb loss as a cost of doing business. Perhaps nothing represents the “business as usual” approach to politics and policy like the Farm Bill. Every few years, a grab-bag of welfare programs, special-interest corporate handouts, protectionist policies, agriculture subsidies, and entitlement boondoggles are thrown together into a trillion dollar spending package that Washington politicians call the “Farm Bill.”
How bad is this “Farm Bill”? Here are just a few examples:
· It contains a new welfare program called “Price Loss Coverage.” This program pays farmers when prices fall below a certain threshold. With crop prices at historic highs, this is like building a slot machine geared for a jackpot. Once prices fall, farmers will be hitting the jackpot every year at the expense of the American taxpayer.
· The “Revenue Loss Coverage” in the House bill and the “Shallow Loss Coverage” in the Senate bill insures against revenue losses greater than 15% and 10%, respectively. With historically high crop prices and a $16 trillion debt, if we can’t eliminate these costly, anti-free market policies now-when will we ever have the courage to do so?
· The House bill extends something called the “Conservation Reserve Program” that pays farmers not to farm 25 million acres of land in America. It extends a sugar program, complete with import quotas that lead to Americans paying 40% more for sugar than the rest of the world.
· The House bill makes no changes to what Speaker Boehner has correctly referred to as a “Soviet-style” dairy program. This program’s market-distorting price controls and production limits are completely antithetical to the free market principles that conservatives cherish.
· The bill funds the Food for Peace Program and the Market Access Program that have long been opposed by conservatives.
THIS IS A FARM BILL LIKE SOLYNDRA IS AN ENERGY COMPANY!
This “Farm Bill” is not really a farm bill at all. Roughly eighty percent of the trillion dollars of spending is on social welfare programs, namely food stamps. Under President Obama, food stamp spending has doubled and today, 1 out of 7 Americans receives food stamps. Conservatives should be outraged that our country is being turned into a European-style social welfare state that is trapping millions of Americans into a cycle of government dependency. Instead, this bill maintains the status quo, missing a chance to fix a program that is robbing our country of the opportunity to earn our success. Surely we can do better.
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