Senate Farm Bill Debate: Expanding Government, Harming Taxpayers

Today, the Senate resumes consideration of the Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2013 (S. 954); legislation better known as the “farm” bill. As amendments continue to be filed for potential floor debate and votes, conservatives in the Senate must push hard to prevent this nearly $1 trillion legislative behemoth from passing. At a bare minimum, efforts must be made to cut spending, eliminate market-distorting subsidy programs harmful to consumers and taxpayers, and reform the food stamp program.

With our national debt approaching nearly $17 trillion, we simply cannot afford for conservatives in both the House and Senate to allow such legislation to saddle American taxpayers with even more spending on subsidies and entitlement programs.

The dynamics of the debate have thus far focused (sub. req’d) on the out-of-control food stamp program, a component which comprises nearly 80% of the bill. Make no mistake, the “farm” bill is really a food stamp bill tied to corporate welfare subsidies.

The coupling of urban and rural interests has created an unholy alliance between big government Democrats vested in expanding the welfare state and big-government Republicans willing to lock in profits for a slice of their constituents at the expense of everyone else.

As the Heritage Foundation’s Daren Bakst has stated:

For taxpayers and voters though, this unholy alliance has been more like oil and water than peanut butter and jelly. The “farm bill,” which is recurring legislation that packages food stamps with farm programs every five years or so, has become a $1 trillion bill of subsidies and welfare programs that ignores sound policy and open and accountable government.

With the implications of the Obama Administration’s myriad scandals continuing to unfold, Washington politicians are using the opportunity to rush big-government legislation to the finish line while the public isn’t looking. This cannot be allowed to happen.

The path to real reform lies in separating food stamps from the farm bill. Until this is done, food stamps will continue to grow and Depression-era farm subsidies will remain largely untouched.

Last year, Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-IN) pushed the ball forward by pressing for full separation. With reports of the House potentially taking up the farm bill next month, conservatives in Congress should remain committed to opposing such massive spending and do the right thing by considering farm subsidies and food stamps in separate legislation.

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