Farm Bill Negotiators Pushing Passage Before The End of the Year

Will a farm bill be pushed through before the end of the year?  Some lawmakers are working to make that a reality, but that accomplishment will not be favorable for taxpayers and consumers.

Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX) 72% told reporters Monday, “There’s no reason not to get [a farm bill].  Every day we don’t get something done makes it more and more difficult.”  Rep. Conaway would like to see a farm bill passed before the end of the year.

CQ reports (sub. req’d) The principal farm bill conferees Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK) 52%, Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN) 34%, Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) 5%, andSen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) 30% are meeting this Wednesday to prepare for some kind of agreement between the House and Senate.

A Trillion Reasons Not to Pass the Farm Bill

But the truth is there’s a trillion reasons not to pass a farm bill hastily!  The House and Senate bills would cost taxpayers nearly a trillion dollars.

The Wall Street Journal recently reported (sub. req’d) on the conservative perspective:

Some conservatives… say that lawmakers will be rewarded if they reject a farm bill that spends too much money or ends up resembling “corporate welfare” for farmers. “It’s an opportunity for them to say Washington is not in the business of handing things out to people,” said Dan Holler, spokesman for Heritage Action for America, the lobbying arm of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank.
Even if passing a farm bill would benefit House Republicans, the internal politics are expected to remain a challenge. Any compromise on food stamps and other funding risks rejection by those on the right looking for big spending cuts. “I don’t see how they come out of the conference with anything that is acceptable to conservatives,” Heritage Action’s Mr. Holler said.

And he is right.  Lawmakers cannot possibly make a good farm bill when they’re working with two flawed bills from the House and Senate.

The Heritage Foundation produced a side-by-side analysis of the two bills, and neither of them are acceptable for taxpayers and consumers, though they would both go a long way in lining the pockets of wealthy farmers.  Thus, any combination of the two — any compromise that may be reached between House and Senate negotiators — will be harmful for the American taxpayer and consumer.

Take the shallow loss program, for example, which both the House and Senate bills incorporate into the farm bill.  These programs should not be added to the farm bill at all because as even the American Farm Bureau Federation wrote in a letter to the House and Senate Agriculture Committees in 2011:

A shallow loss program is a drastic departure from any previous farm policy design.  Federal farm programs have traditionally existed to help farmers survive large, systemic losses.  Shallow losses, however, can arise from a variety of systemic or individual sources and do not typically jeopardize the survival of a farm operation.


shallow loss

From Heritage Foundation issue brief “A Comparison of the House and Senate Farm Bills”

The shallow loss program is one of many misguided programs in desperate need of reform.  Haste makes waste, and in this case, rushing to pass a farm bill before the end of the year will mean trillions of wasted taxpayer dollars.


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