Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Farmers Feeding at the Federal Trough

Amber Waves of Green

March 13, 2008; Page A18 Wall Street Journal (link)

When it comes to picking taxpayer pockets, no one -- not the trial lawyers or even AARP -- has it over the farm lobby. How's this for clout? Though last year was one of the best ever for farm incomes -- up 44% to $87.5 billion -- farmers are about to score the most lavish subsidies in American history.

The House and Senate are now ironing out differences between their bills, and it's all but certain that farmers will get about $26 billion over the next five years in subsidies. Soybean and wheat farmers are slated to receive higher price supports, though bean prices hit a 34-year high last year and wheat prices have soared to a new record.

Corn producers will get subsidies of $10.5 billion over five years, which is on top of the deal of a lifetime these farmers were handed when Congress expanded ethanol subsidies. The handouts make growing corn so profitable that last year some 15.3 million acres were converted to new corn production, according to the USDA. That has a cascading effect on other prices, as farmers convert bean acreage to more lucrative corn fields and feed prices for meat producers climb.

Commentary: Farmers Feeding at the Federal Trough

I don’t get it. Farm prices are up, but so are government price supports for farm products. A married couple farming full time can have an income of up to $2 million a year before they lose their eligibility for a taxpayer subsidy. We enrich the corporate factory farmers. Our farm policy keeps some people farming who don’t need to farm. We pay other farmers not to farm. We keep the poor of the world poor and undermine our advocacy of free trade.

We subsidize the production of corn syrup to the point that it is so cheap that it is added to things that don’t need corn syrup such as peanut butter and the crackers you put the peanut butter on. And all that corn syrup makes Americans very fat. Speaking of fat, fat cats like Ted Turner, David Letterman and David Rockefeller get farm subsidies. All the while, we are increasing the price of groceries to the American consumer. This is nuts! Speaking of nuts, they are subsidized too, especially peanuts. The farm bill needs to be vetoed. We need to stop this welfare for farmers and we need to get government out of the business of setting farm prices.

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