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FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR

The Latest on the Farm Bill

Today, the Senate will invoke cloture on the 5-year farm bill, S. 954.  The 1150-page Senate bill costs $955 billion over 10 years and creates a new shallow loss program covering up to 90% of a farmer’s income – on the taxpayer dime.  Roughly 80% of the cost is related to food stamps.  For good measure, this bill contains sugar subsidies, biofuels subsidies, and conservation programs.  This mega-bill was rushed through the committee process and has only been subject to four amendments on the floor.  I guess Reid is agog with enthusiasm to get to the amnesty bill.

The House bill is, more or less, the same thing; it just cuts an extra few billion of the baseline spending for food stamps, while adding more spending to socialist price support programs for Big Ag special interests.  As an added bonus, it contains a Soviet-style milk productions regulatory regime and new taxes on rocks!

Meanwhile, instead of weaning the farmers off government dependency, this bill has created the potential for an entirely new crop subsidy.  Earlier this week, the Senate adopted an amendment from Senator Moran, which would require the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation to study and develop a crop insurance policy for alfalfa farmers, so they can receive their own carve out.  It’s not like alfalfa farmers can’t take advantage of the current crop insurance program or the new shallow loss program; the special interests always need a personal handout.

Look, we all understand that it’s hard to end 80 years of government intervention in farming overnight, but do we really need to add more programs?

Moving forward, conservatives must work to break up the farm bill. The key element to passing massive farm bills over the years has been the inclusion of food stamps in the package. This allows members from rural and urban districts to “logroll” and trade their votes in exchange for each others’ special interest. The way to break this cycle is by separating the two elements, and demanding that each one stand on its own merit. Rep. Paul Broun is requesting signatories for a letter to Speaker Boehner asking for Food Stamps to be separated out from the House version of the farm bill before it is considered on the floor later this month. Please ask your member of Congress to sign the Broun letter.

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