Farm bill’s beauty in eye of beholder - The Packer

Farm bill’s beauty in eye of beholder

02/03/2014 04:59:00 PM
Tom Karst

Tom KarstCheck out the Feb. 3 farm bill debate in the Senate on CSPAN here. If you listen to the lawmakers, it is plain there are deeply divided opinions about the farm bill. In the end, the Senate voted to end debate; that is expected to be followed with final passage the morning of Feb. 4.

Conservatives didn’t like the farm bill because it was too generous with food stamp funding and other excess, while liberals were unhappy with the limited reforms in the bill and the cuts to food stamps.

Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D. Conn., said this in a recent release:

“Three months after cutting $11 billion from food stamps, our nation’s most important anti-hunger program, supporters of this Farm Bill are trying to cut another $8.6 billion. Yet, they have gone out of their way to reopen loopholes that benefit millionaires and billionaires. The result: winners and losers.

 “The winners are wealthy farmers and agri-businesses who will be able to pocket subsidies and handouts beyond the already-generous limits. They will receive more taxpayer-subsidized crop insurance. And they will take advantage of a loophole that allows farming enterprises to over-collect on commodity payments. There is no limit on the number of people working for a given entity who can receive these payments. This means that, for example, eight people at one establishment can collect $125,000 payments each, leading to a $1 million taxpayer subsidy for a single farm.

 “The losers are the 850,000 low-income households all over America, 1.7 million Americans, who will lose 66 meals a month with this cut to food stamps, on the heels of the November cut. Children will go to bed hungry and spend the next day at school unable to concentrate. Veterans and working families will face an empty fridge and a gnawing pain. Seniors will have to choose between food and warmth. These are our own, hard-working people we are consigning to this fate.

 “Anyone who votes for this bill will have to look those people in the eye and tell them to go without food. I urge the Senate: do not move forward with this bill.”


TK: On the other side of the fence, the Heritage Action Center  also wanted Congress to reject, but for opposite reasons:

“America is more than $17 trillion in debt, yet the bill will likely cost $950 billion. Proponents claim it will reduce the deficit, but it is actually a 57-percent increase in the baseline from the 2008 bill, which was projected to cost $604 billion. Not surprisingly, the 2008 bill actually ended up costing much more. As Politico rightly noted earlier this week, “any cost estimate is suspect after the drop in corn prices over the summer. Cash sales were just $4.10 per bushel.” Heritage previously warned “the bigger problem with the CBO estimate is that it presumes that commodity prices will stay at or near record highs.”

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