Farm subsidies, or agriculture subsidies, are subsidies paid to farms and agricultural businesses to supplement their income, manage the supply of agricultural commodities such as wheat, rice, milk, sugar, soybeans, and influence their cost & supply.
The U.S. pays $20 billion/year in direct subsidies as “farmers’ welfare” based on a farm bill that dates back to the Great Depression-era. Many recipients of this “farmers’ welfare” do not have any sort of economic need for these subsidies.
For instance, a few individuals that actually receive “farmers’ welfare” payments include Ted Turner, Larry Flynt, and Charles Schwab. Do these sounds like folks with a financial need of government money? In addition to these individuals, several members of Congress receive agriculture subsidies. Why?
In some case, these subsidies are given to farmers to increase production of certain agricultural commodities but even more ridiculous is the idea that some of these subsidies are given to farmers to deter them from producing certain agricultural commodities. How stupid does this sound? Here, let me give you 100 grand to not farm your land. Since 2000, over $1 billion has been paid to farmers that do not use their land for farming.
Does that make any sense to you?
Some subsidies are even given to individuals and companies that have absolutely nothing to do with agriculture. Food conglomerates and liquor distillers are only two examples.
Farm subsidies are just another example of the redistribution of wealth. Just another example of the federal government stealing money from one group of people and giving it to another. Just another example of crony capitalism.
The federal government would have you believe that these farm subsidies are meant to give assistance to small farmers when in reality, most of the money is given to larger farms, which or course, not only does not assist small farmers, but increases their chance of going out of business because of larger farms cornering certain markets. Additionally, some of the large dairy producers that are heavily subsidized have convinced the federal government to prohibit the sale of raw milk, continuing the trend of trying to put the little guys out of business and flooding the market with heavily pasteurized and potentially dangerous dairy products.
Farm subsidies often encourage overproduction and discourage efficient farming practices.
We do not live in the era of the Great Depression anymore. Farm subsidies are not needed. Ending them would ultimately save the taxpayers billions of dollars and lessen the tax burden on future generations.
The current Agricultural Reform bill, Senate Bill 954, would theoretically eliminate some of these direct subsidies by repealing the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Program and creating almost $16 billion in savings. It would also end subsidies for anybody with a gross income of more than $750,000, making millionaires and billionaires ineligible for agricultural subsidies. It also makes anybody that wins the lottery from receiving food stamp benefits.
While this piece of the bill is commendable and would garner my support for it, there are other pieces of the bill that make it less attractive to me.
For instance, it also increases the amount of foreign aid and provides encourage (via funding) to American farmers to relocate to third-world nations to help develop those areas. The bill also provides additional funding (80% of the funding in this bill to be exact) to the Department of Agriculture to increase participation in the food stamp program. And while the bill is poised to end many farming subsidies, it also provides more funds to give loans to farm owners. Sounds like a fair trade but to me it sounds like robbing Peter to pay Peter again. It also provides funding for crop insurance.
So overall, I do not support this “farming bill” because although it is making an attempt to end direct farming subsidies which is sorely needed, it diverts that money, or at least a large portion of it, to other federal programs. If there were some amendments made to the bill that would essentially eliminate all but the first section of the bill, I would support. But in its current state, I definitely do not support this bill.
Congress needs to come up with a new bill that adequately reforms the farming subsidies process. They need to put together a bill that simply does 3 things:
End farming subsidies for any individual or family making more than, say…$500,000 in adjusted gross income.
End farming subsidies completely for corporations.
Eliminate the federal Department of Agriculture. What do Washington bureaucrats know about agriculture?
Once this is done, the agriculture industry will initially go through a transition period but will ultimately adjust and sustain itself. And in the end, all will benefit from better farming practices and saving the taxpayers of this country billions of dollars.