Every five years the US Congress passes a farm bill. It is part of the process of the Department of Agriculture whose policies have barely changed since the 1930s, despite a great change in the farming industry. This year the Farm Bill is due to be passed, and fellow Americas need to know more about this program and let their senators and representatives know that one of the major ways to decrease national debt and taxpayer burden is to completely reform the Farm Bill before it is passed. The Senate and House both have their versions of the bill: S. 954 and H.R. 1947. The main issue is SNAP [Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program] that concerns food stamps. It is why the Farm Bill has continued through the decades with little or no reform. SNAP’s goal, or rather those that are supporting it, is to end childhood hunger by 2015 and react quickly during economic and natural disasters that affect availability of food, which is a companion program called TEFAP [The Emergency Food Assistance Program].
The proposed bill that will affect the American taxpayers until 2018 is 1150 pages [Senate version] and has 23 amendments attached. It has long been a burden on national debt and misused for many decades. It is time to reform this draconian dinosaur, however, this reform will not occur until Food Stamp issues are separated from the Farm Bill. Indeed, the bill’s name has nothing to do with Food Stamps. Political culprits concerning this misused program that helps wealthy farmers and special interest groups, like insurance companies, far more than what the program was designed for when it surfaced in the 1930s. During those years of the Great Depression the combined severe drought that created the Dust Bowl and dropped prices had farms going bankrupt. Any nation is dependent upon how well it provides food to feed its people. The United States has been blessed with vast agricultural land that has had the capability to not only feed Americans, but other nations around the globe with farm surplus used for international trading and foreign aid [welfare].
Today, the federal Farm Policy is a web of agricultural subsidies, welfare payments, and environmental group kickbacks that has reached nearly a trillion dollars in cost. As previously mentioned, the mentality and schematics of the Farm Bill is still in the 1930s, when in reality the farm situation is very different. Farmers are producing record-high levels of income and has record-low levels of debt. Technology has been the greatest change that has improved over the decades. Therefore, no politician in Washington could possibly justify tens of billions of taxpayer dollars to the farm industry. The only improvement is that finally the outdated program that pays farmers NOT TO GROW certain crops is supposed to be eliminated. The Senate bill promotes eliminating subsidies paid to farmers and aid to wealthy farmers. However, the Food Stamp program is still part of the Farm Bill and not voted upon as a separate bill. This is why so much “pork” has been inserted and allowed over the decades, and why it has suffered severe abuse. The Farm Bill is, and has been, parasitic to say the least.
Unfortunately, we have a president that will sign it despite no reform and not separating unrelated Food Stamp program from the Farm Bill. He is too busy playing golf and raising funds for the Democratic Party of Sociocrats. He should have addressed Congress in the beginning of 2013 to warn that any Farm Bill will be vetoed if it does not show major reform – beginning with establishing a separate bill concerning Food Stamps.
All of this does not mean that I am against farmer’s getting a helping hand. The major reason for any nation to prosper relies greatly upon those who produce its food. It is a noble profession that requires hard work despite improved technologies that help farmers be more efficient and produce more crops. Our armed forces are important for national security and protecting our homeland, but the farmers feed the armed forces and everyone else across the nation – and in other places around the world.
Friends and acquaintances of mine are farmers, Door Peninsula having extensive farmland primarily dealing with dairy, orchards, beef cattle, and grains to feed livestock. Wisconsin is famous for its cheese and beer, both dependent upon farmers. Farmers make the world turn more easily.
However, it is time to stop the wealthy from taking advantage of the Farm Bill program, which aids them in reducing and driving out the small and independent farmers. Just as in the service and industrial arena, the small business is the backbone of our nation.
The following programs are part of the Farm Bill that requires a serious overhaul – so there is one bill for Food Sustenance and one bill as the traditional Farm Bill.
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) – Food Stamps.
- The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP).
- Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP)
- Seniors Farmers’ Markets.
- USDA Snack Program.
- Community Food Project Grants.
- Food Distribution Programs for Native Americans.
- Natively Grown Food Support for Native Americans.
- Urban Food Enterprise Development Center
The House of Representatives committee Farm Bill proposes Ag cuts of almost $21 billion in the next ten years.
Policies and programs that actually relate to farming are:
- Direct Payments: Billions of tax dollars are being given to successful farm enterprises – even if the farm is NOT growing any crops.
- Federal Crop Insurance: Taxpayers spent more than $14 billion in 2012 subsidizing agriculture businesses buying crop insurance [one of the major special interest groups that are subsidized] for foods from almonds to oysters.
- Shallow Loss Programs: This program is new and is an open-ended income program that taxpayers pay for guaranteeing record prices. This shallow loss coverage would cost taxpayers billions of dollars and violates World Trade Organization regulations.
- USDA Trade Promotion Programs: Taxpayers spend about $200 million per year to support advertising that benefits large corporate enterprises and agricultural special interest groups.
- Sugar Program: A small amount of sugar producers receive great benefits, while the costs spread across the US economy that harms consumers, taxpayers, and the industries that use the sweetener, like bakeries.
- Dairy Market Stabilization Plan (DMSP): The DMSP will impose government controls and regulations on US milk supply, as well as penalize farmers for exceeding government milk production “quotas”, artificially inflate the price of dairy products for families and drive the cost of federal food programs higher.
- Target Prices: Government sets the prices about 40% higher than previous farm bill and mostly higher than record levels seen between 2005 and 2010, which costs taxpayers billions of dollars in payments if crop prices dip slightly.
- Rural Broadband: The Rural Utilities Services Broadband Loan Program is a good example of waste and market distortion.
- Mandatory Assessments: Mandatory assessments on farmers in order to promote commodities cost consumers and skirt constitutional provisions that only Congress has the power to tax. The program violates [like so many in the federal government] the principles of freedom of speech and forces some producers to pay to communicate messages against their will.
- Cotton Program: Federal subsidies for domestic cotton are so high, they violate international trade rules. To keep Brazil from enacting retaliatory tariffs which would hurt American consumers, taxpayers send $147.3 million to the Brazilian Cotton Institute EVERY YEAR.
- Ethanol: The Feedstock Flexibility Program is the hallmark of cronyism. With taxpayer dollars, the federal government buys up subsidized surplus sugar and sells it at loss to ethanol makers. It not only corrodes your engine and engine components, but your wallet as well. Once again, special interest groups and the government lied to the People telling them that ethanol will make fuel cheaper and engines run more efficiently. The only thing it has done is raise the price of corn, a food substance and made investors and makers wealthy. False claims about ethanol has cost billions of dollars to the People, just as the hoax called Global Warming or Global Climate Change has done.
- Biomass: Since 2008, the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) has proven to be a failure and ended as a rip-off to taxpayers. The 2013 Farm Bill, if passed, will reincarnate this government program monster.
Do your own research and then write to your senator and representative and let them know that you know the real story about the Farm Bill and demand it be separated from anything that has to do with food stamps and food welfare programs, which will progress greatly toward true reform. The next step is to reduce the power of special interest lobby groups and tailor the bill to the 21st century and not the 1930s.
It is time that politicians stop wailing about national debt and wasteful and over spending, and earn their paychecks. Take food welfare out of the concerns of farmers in the Farm Bill now. The Department of Agriculture rightly has the responsibility of food programs, just as they are responsible to assist farmers across our nation; however, there is no reason to insert concerns of food welfare with the farm bill other than to ensure that their pork and special interest concerns are passed along with it. The People end up the losers.