Farm welfare: It’s not just for the poor. While working Americans slave away to pay their taxes, wealthy welfare farmers can rest assured the easy money will keep showing up in the mail for years to come.
Even though farmers are thriving as a result of world food prices soaring 43 percent in the past year, Congress has approved a $300 billion farm bill. It’s laden with pork and full of benefits that will keep a few wealthy Americans comfortably idle for at least the next five years.
By a majority so great the president’s promised veto will certainly be overridden, Congress decided to subsidize farmers to grow crops we don’t need in some cases — such as corn for inefficient ethanol — and to shut down production of other crops. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, managed to earmark the bill so that it gives nearly $70 million in tax benefits to wealthy racehorse owners.
The Associated Press reports that nearly two-thirds of the bill would pay for food stamps, emergency food aid for the poor. About $40 billion would subsidize over-production of crops the market doesn’t need, and $30 billion for farmers to leave land idle.
Anyone who thinks farm welfare goes only to poor struggling farm families should consider this: A married farm couple would need to earn more than $1.5 million a year to be disqualified for the welfare payments.
Meanwhile, food prices will continue to climb for working men and women whose paychecks are raided to pay for all this.
What’s most disappointing is Congress ignored sincere efforts to reform American farm policy offered by a collection of bipartisan forward thinkers that included Arizona Reps. Jeff Flake, a Republican, and Harry Mitchell, a Democrat. Their proposals would have gone a long way toward ending the huge disruption of competitive free markets.