FARM SUBSIDIES….Brian Riedl of the Heritage Foundation writes today about agricultural policy:
Republican and Democratic congressional leaders rarely agree on a major issue. Yet both House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) and Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) have gone on the record as opposing the current $25-billion farm subsidy system, which Congress is rewriting this month.
….[S]ome family farmers continue to struggle. But if subsidies were really designed to alleviate farmer poverty, then lawmakers could guarantee every full-time farmer an income of 185% of the federal poverty level ($38,203 for a family of four) for under $5 billion annually — one-fifth the current cost of farm subsidies.
Not gonna happen. If there’s one thing farmers fight even harder than losing their subsidies, it’s any change that would make it clear that the subsidies are really just a big welfare program. Welfare is for crack addicts in the Bronx, not hardworking Midwest soybean farmers.
Still, on the list of federal programs that have stayed around the longest with no real justification, farm subsidies surely top the list. (That Spanish-American War telephone tax might have been the previous winner, but it finally got killed last year.) But like a zombie that can’t be killed, I don’t imagine that farm subsidies are going to be eliminated or even scaled back this year any more than they have in any previous year. After all, how would Archer Daniels Midland compete with the French if we did that?