Heritage Reacts: "Farm Bill" is misnamed Print
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Corrine Williams   
Tuesday, 18 June 2013 10:30

This week The US House of Representatives is set to vote on the misnamed “Farm Bill”. This is not a farm bill; it's a food stamp bill. Food stamps make up roughly 80 percent of the bill. The 20 percent of the bill that is left is mostly handouts in the form of corporate welfare and other programs that benefit special interests.

Further, this “Farm Bill” is 56% MORE costly than the last. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projected the last farm bill, in 2008, to cost $604 billion. The new House farm bill is projected to cost a whopping $940 billion. This is 56 percent more than the 2008 farm bill. If this wasn’t bad enough, the actual costs will likely be much greater, just like the actual costs of the 2008 bill

1.       This is not a farm bill; it’s a food stamp bill.  Food stamps make up roughly 80 percent of the bill.  The 20 percent of the bill that is left is mostly handouts in the form of corporate welfare and other programs that benefit special interests.

2.      This “farm” bill is a textbook example of legislative logrolling.  The issues of food stamps and farming are far too important to be jammed together in a behemoth of a bill totaling a trillion dollars. When it comes to debating a bill with a price tag as large as this one, Congress owes it to the American taxpayers to engage in careful consideration of these programs.

3.      The farm bill is filled with favors for special interests.  One of the ways Congress can achieve reform that benefits taxpayers is by separating the “farm” bill into two components and consider each independently on its own merits.  The combination of food stamps and farm policy into a single bill holds us back from debating meaningful reforms in either area.

4.      The farming industry as a whole is enjoying record profits, yet  special interests continue to lobby Congress to  create new programs that not only help guarantee profit, but pad their already healthy bottom line.  Large corporate farms don’t need and shouldn’t receive massive subsidies from taxpayers, many of whom are struggling to make ends meet.

a.       In fact, about 75 percent of large farms receive subsidies compared to only 24 percent of small farms.  Consider that people like former President Jimmy Carter, the Rockefeller family and even some Members of Congress receive these taxpayer-funded subsidies.

5.      Ironically the exact policies crafted in the 1930’s to help struggling farmers are the same ones that are now placing the smaller farms at a competitive disadvantage with the larger farms.  A lot has changed since the enactment of the first farm bill.  Congress shouldn’t continue outdated policies simply to coddle this thriving, innovative industry that is led by business leaders who can manage risk as well anyone else.

6.      Both the House and Senate “farm” bills eliminate flawed programs only to create new programs that could turn out to be even worse. Despite claims of cutting spending some the House is projected to spend 56 percent more than the projected costs of the 2008 farm bill.  Additionally, taxpayers could be on the hook for millions more because Congress is assuming the cost of these programs will be much cheaper than what reality may prove.

7.      Spending on food stamps has doubled between 2008 and 2011, from approximately $40 billion to $80 billion respectively.  Today roughly one in seven Americans receive food stamps, and although we’re seeing a slowly improving economy, there has not been a corresponding decrease in the number of individuals receiving food stamps.  Despite these realities, the spending cuts proposed in the House version of the farm bill are so minimal that they won’t even cover the amount of fraud, waste and abuse plaguing the food-stamp program.

8.      The farm bill is central planning at its very worst.  If left on its current path, the farm bill will continue to roll right over taxpayers and leave any notion of fiscal responsibility in the dust. When politicians from both parties come together to irresponsibly spend taxpayer dollars and drive up the cost of food for families, Congress isn’t working for the American people

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