Does the Farm Bill Really Stimulate the Economy?

In light of our nation’s nearly $17 trillion debt, conservatives are always looking for ways the government can and should cut spending.  With all the wasteful spending in Washington, identifying the waste is not hard; getting Washington to change, however, is an uphill battle.

Take the farm bill, for example, and all the silly arguments made in favor of the waste (i.e., corporate welfare) perpetuated by this anachronistic legislation, like this one:

American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman says the farm bill isn’t just a farm bill – it’s an economic stimulus bill that creates jobs and helps small businesses and rural communities every year. 

You don’t have to be an economist to grasp this: taking taxpayer money and giving it to corporate agriculture interests doesn’t stimulate the economy.  It just hurts taxpayers.

And Heritage has explained:

[T]here is one problem with the government stimulus theory: No one asks where Congress got the money it spends.

Congress does not have a vault of money waiting to be distributed. Every dollar Congress injects into the economy must first be taxed or borrowed out of the economy. No new spending power is created. It is merely redistributed from one group of people to another.

The farm bill is riddled with this type wasteful spending and upward redistribution of wealth.

Ironically, the agricultural programs created by this legislation benefit primarily the wealthiest, largest farms in America:

The farm programs are often thought of as a safety net for small farmers. This also isn’t reality. About 75 percent of larger farms with incomes of $250,000 to $999,999 receive government subsidies. Only 24 percent of small farms with incomes from $10,000 to $249,999 get them.

Heritage explained elsewhere:

As demonstrated by the most recent farm bill, the government’s agriculture costs are dominated by mandatory spending, mainly for food stamps and agriculture subsidies. The programs are rooted in anachronistic policies of the 1930s, long since made irrelevant by today’s farm technology. The key to reducing agriculture spending is to substantially reform these programs.

In a report on the sweet deals handed out to sugar producers in America, Heritage noted:

As long as the government has the ability to hand out favors to some industries and punish others, resources will be diverted away from productive private-sector activities to fund lobbying campaigns in Washington, D.C. 

American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman and other supporters of the flawed farm bill fail to mention how big-government special interest groups and lobbyists dominate this conversation.  Sympathetic politicians then candy coat the reality and tell us the farm bill is good for America.

As taxpayers and consumers, we beg to differ.

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The farm bill exists to funnel taxpayer money to wealthy farmers. That needs to change.

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Wasteful agricultural spending doesn't stimulate the economy. It hurts taxpayers and consumers.

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Federal farm programs are really about corporate welfare and don't help the average American.

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