With all the things that our federal government can no longer afford, one would think that farm subsidies would finally reach their sunset. Of course, one might well be wrong:
A plan to shift some farm subsidies into a revenue-protection measure may cost more than expected and won’t make necessary changes to agricultural programs, according to advocates for lower payments.
A bill backed by Democratic senators Richard Durbin of Illinois and Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Republicans Richard Lugar of Indiana and John Thune of South Dakota would consolidate several subsidy programs into a plan to aid farmers when revenue declines. The proposal would save $19.8 billion over 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office. The agriculture committees of both houses have pledged to come up with $23 billion in cuts by Nov. 1.
The article goes on to say that subsidies are an obvious target of cuts when one considers how much non-subsidized wealth is being created by bumper crops. Of course, that is looking at this from a “can we afford this” perspective rather than a “is it government’s job to provide this” perspective.
Let’s not judge until we see the details, though. What form do these new (re-imagined) subsidies take? Well:
The bill backed by Durbin, Brown, Thune and Lugar would create a program to protect farmers of major crops including corn, wheat, rice, soybeans and cotton from “shallow losses,” providing income during periods of long-term price declines or extended weather disasters. The measure would guarantee income within an average of prices in previous years, smoothing out some of the recent volatility in futures trading: Wheat traded in Chicago, for example, has seen annual gains of 77 percent and 47 percent since 2007 and a loss of 31 percent.
So, farmers/ranchers are to get guaranteed income when they are unable to grow crops or are unable to sell them for as much as they anticipated based on previous year’s numbers?
Do not Thune, et al understand the inequalities of such a bill? Am I, being neither a rancher or farmer, also to be guaranteed income in periods of shallow losses? What happens if my clients do not give me as much work as usual?
Either everyone ought to be protected or no one is. If the state protects everyone, we have socialism, or one of its variants. That aside, we are cutting spending because we have no money. For every $4 the federal government takes in taxation, we spend $7.
Farmers and ranchers are important to our economy at the local, state and national levels. I understand that. But providing support for them at the expense of other people and industries is wrong. Agricultural subsidies ought to be completely and entirely retired.
This bill does not pass the general welfare clause test, neither ought it to pass the Senate.