Yes, Farm Bill will Expire

When it comes to the farm bill, conservatives are enjoying a long awaited victory.  CQ reports (sub. req’d) that the farm bill will be allowed to expire September 30, which will only be the second time since 1973 – the beginning of modern-era agriculture policy – that it has been allowed to expire.

As we are well aware, there are no permanent victories in Washington.  Congress may look at the bill after the election in a lame-duck session, but the motives to oppose this reckless bill will remain even then.  The bill needs to be reformed in some serious ways before it will be something lawmakers are comfortable voting for.

Farm-state lawmakers and other proponents of the bill have become all too comfortable with the subsidies doled out to certain agricultural interests.  For the past thirty-nine years the narrative of this bill can be nicely summed up with the expression, “You give them an inch, and they’ll take a mile.”  Special agricultural interests have become increasingly accustomed to having their pockets lined at the expense of taxpayers. 

That’s why Heritage Action’s Mike Needham and Tim Chapman penned an op-ed back in May entitled “Farm Bill Provides Fertile Ground for Change.”  In it, they explained:

“For decades, lawmakers have used the farm bill to shape America’s farm and food policy, funneling subsidies to certain agriculture interests and money toward welfare programs such as food stamps and mandating increased ethanol production. Now, the pressure of fiscal realities has created an uncertain future for the traditionally bipartisan bill. Already, the wheat and sugar lobbies are hard at work to protect their subsidies.”

They continued:

“Despite being on defense for years, farm bill proponents have rarely ceded ground. Just take the 2008 farm bill, which authorized a record $288 billion in spending and increased payments during a time of record profits. Republicans — 100 in the House and 34 in the Senate — joined their Democratic colleagues to override President George W. Bush’s veto. If not for an overlooked $37 billion tax increase in the bill, more Republicans would have joined.”

The farm bill has become extremely bloated with spending on crop insurance subsidies as well as excessive amounts of spending on food stamps; in fact, it accounts for nearly 80% of the bill’s spending.    Thankfully, the tide is turning in favor of fiscal conservatives, and it appears that lawmakers recognize the need for real reform.


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