In the attached article Eli Leher, President of The R Street Institute gives us a glimpse into the insanity which is agricultural policy in this country. The family farm, Leher explains, is dead. Current ag policies, so often sold with a side of apple pie as being good for the small farmer, don’t benefit this ghost of Americana. They benefit big agriculture, and are created by a vast team of lobbyists who have never once worn overalls.
It’s basically a giant jack of the taxpayer. But what isn’t in Washington these days?
The coming debate over a major farm bill, and the programs intended to benefit farmers in particular, matters not just for the financial stakes, although they’re significant. It’s also a test of the Republican Party’s mettle when it comes to dealing with the size, scope and negative consequences of federal activity. If the GOP and, for that matter, Democrats honestly concerned about good governance cannot hold the line against ever-growing subsidies to farmers in the bill, they cannot claim much credibility to reform other parts of the federal edifice. Quite simply, the current farm bill, now approaching its first round of major committee discussions, ought to be a crucible for anybody concerned about the country’s finances.
That said, support for farm programs runs deep. For roughly five decades, farm subsidy programs have expanded as a result of a deeply corrupt log-rolling agreement that folds subsidies to farmers into a massive bill with food and nutrition programs for the poor. As a result, urban, mostly Democratic members of Congress have supported significant subsidies for farmers in return for rural, generally Republican members’ support of programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), better known by its former name of food stamps.