Tuesday, Jul 29, 2014
Agri Leader

U.S. Senate fails again to pass quality farm bill

Published:

Chicago Tribune on the Senate passing a bad farm bill:

The Senate approved a nearly $1 trillion farm bill that proves Washington is still bent on catering to special interests and wasting taxpayers' money.

Let's count the ways.

The Senate bill perpetuates a sugar subsidy that raises the price of sweets and shuts out foreign competition. Great for the sugar industry, terrible for consumers. ...

The bill perpetuates the vast government subsidies for crop insurance. The government will continue to pay more than half the cost of the insurance. Farmers get subsidized and get a perverse financial incentive to take excessive risks without having to worry if their crops fail. Taxpayers get gouged.

The bill largely spurns efforts to reform the international food aid program. Most food will still be bought in the U.S. and shipped abroad, rather than be purchased where it will be consumed. That's good for U.S. growers and shippers, but drives up the cost and reduces the number of people fed.

The bill cuts $4 billion over 10 years in the food-stamp program, but does little to deal with fraud in the program. ...

With less and less risk of bearing a loss, farmers have started planting what's known in the heartland as "corn-on-corn." Instead of rotating the crop in each field year by year, some farmers have been planting only corn. Corn last year. Corn this year. Corn next year.

That's poor stewardship, contrary to the critical goal of sustainability. ...

U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson of Minnesota, ranking Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee and a defender of crop insurance, recently admitted, "There is five times as much fraud in crop insurance than in food stamps."

The government should have no role in crop insurance for wealthy agribusinesses. The subsidy should be greatly scaled back to assist only those farmers who require help to obtain a reasonable level of emergency coverage.

The Senate has failed again to come up with a far-reaching farm bill. The House will take up its own version in the coming weeks. Congress, come on. Wean the agriculture industry off of welfare.

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