Farm Subsidies

How to Fix the 2012 Farm Bill

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This picture deserves better alt text

The American Enterprise Institute has published a monster package of proposed reforms for the 2012 Farm Bill, which cost $307 billion when it was passed by Congress in 2008. The key points of the AEI papers are

  • Most farm subsidies go to substantial and successful operations and provide little support for the farms they were once intended to benefit. Many of the programs create barriers to more efficient agriculture in the United States, interfere with international trade, and have adverse effects on farmers in developing countries.
  • US agricultural policy influences global supply and demand. Many of those adversely affected by current US trade and domestic agricultural policies are among the poorest on the planet.
  • A failure to increase publicly funded agricultural research and development (R&D) will likely have long-term consequences for the sustainability of US agriculture in a competitive global environment and for the natural resources on which it depends.
  • The federal government has created an array of policies—production controls, subsidies, and marketing orders—that increase the price of milk for US consumers and increase the income of milk producers.
  • US families pay nearly twice the world price for sugar and other sweeteners because of federal government policies intended to protect domestic beet and cane sugar producers from cheaper foreign competitors. 

The entire series of white papers is here

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  1. Oh c’mon Riggs, the picture is dying for alt text!

    1. What Spencer said

      1. Otto is a palindrome.

        1. And a homonym!

          1. I believe it’s actually a homophone, not a homonym…

            1. Yes. Yes it is. There’s a joke in there about where I put my brain every morning, but I can’t get it.

    2. Lead singer of SOAD has some nice melons!

      “Pull the tapeworm outta your ass!”

    3. Produce consumers love having their melons grabbed while they’re being fucked

  2. I don’t know about the gov’t funded r&d, but the rest seems to make sense.

  3. A failure to increase publicly funded agricultural research and development (R&D) will likely have long-term consequences for the sustainability of US agriculture in a competitive global environment and for the natural resources on which it depends.

    Wait, what?

    also, FUCK YOU, AEI.

    1. This is ConAgra’s in to the next round of government subsidization. USDA outsources R&D to Big Corn/Soybean.

      1. Alternative energy subsidies and tax credits are already there for ConAgra.

  4. I’m surprised AEI’s solution to high sugar prices isn’t an invasion of Brazil.

    1. Just wait until our infrastructure is based on sugar, then we’ll see.

      1. ROADZZ paved with brilliant-white confectioner’s sugar. Nirvana.

        1. I was thinking more of cars that burn sugar and polute caramel (NOT CARMEL!) all over the place.

          1. You are all haters of Sugarfree.

          2. WHY NOT BOTH! EVERYONE WINS!

            Except SugarFree 🙁

        2. Or hell if you are SF.

        3. Kurt is dead.

  5. You know, it’s not fair that grapefruits are not called melons. I mean, for the purpose of the much needed alt-text they should be equal.
    I support fruit equality. We should amend the definition of melon to include grapefruit.
    Fruit equality now!

    1. If you’re ever in mid-southeast Michigan in late July/early August, you must check out the Howell Melon Festival. They have their own brand of melon there (really – The Howell Melon?). I’d call it a cantaloupe, but my wife smacks me in the face when I say that.

      Bonus – TONS of opportunity for juvenile comments about the “fine melons” you saw at the festival (wink wink).

  6. We don’t see a problem here.

  7. Projection: A Study In Cheeseburger

    The offending order went as follows: a burger (490 calories), chocolate shake (790 calories), and french fries (470 calories)

    1. maybe if she kept her nose of out other people’s meals…

      Wait, NO FUCKING THREADJACKING! This shit is stupid.

      1. Threadjacking or Strategic Thread Enhancement?

        1. See how SF reels you in? He’s like the Venus Flytrap of linkers….”really, it’s not disturbing…it’s all how you look at it…if you don’t like Jezebel, there’s always Feministing…you’re expanding your horizons…”

          Run away like your hair’s on fire…

      2. spencer, it starts with a simple threadjack, and then BAM! you’re hooked on the links and just haaaaaave to look….”you know you want to”….

        Be strong, spencer, be strong!

    2. The overlap between the feminists and the fat pride movement is pretty damn amusing. I guess one way to never suffer from the dreaded male gaze is gorge yourself until you resemble a beanbag.

      With that said, the burger should have been a double and fuck the fries and the milkshake.

      1. I guess one way to never suffer from the dreaded male gaze is gorge yourself until you resemble a beanbag.

        +LOLeded

    3. You missed the best part of the quote.

      The offending order went as follows: a burger (490 calories), chocolate shake (790 calories), and french fries (470 calories) ? wait, what? I’m sorry, I just fell out of my drool-soaked chair.

      ME WANT EAT MAMBURGERS

  8. Am I hallucinating (again), or wasn’t there a bill passed that did away with farm subsidies once?

    1. Well, it incrementally reduced them to zero over a number of years. But it didnt ever make it.

      1. And it replaced all the programs with direct payments (arguably more economically efficient) that were supposed to phase out… but a couple of years later all the old programs came back, but the direct payments didn’t go away.

        Yet another reason that people are justifiably paranoid of all these grand bargains, no matter how much our betters in the media mock us.

  9. The Farm Bill seems like a quick and easy cut to get us much closer to balanced.

    $307 billion.

    Bam.

    1. $3T in savings over 10 years for current debt ceiling projections. More than Boehner is offering in cuts and Obama wants in revenues combined.

      1. Yeah, I was about to point out the $3T thing, since that is the way they calculate.

        One vote does more than they want to do.

        1. I couldn’t believe that $307 billion number so I looked it up some more. Turns out that the bills costs are spread out over a five year period.

          The Food, Conservation and Energy Act (Farm Bill of 2008) authorizes spending of up to $307 billion over five fiscal years starting October 1, 2008. The 673-page bill encompasses 15 “titles.” Each deals with a different area, including commodity programs, nutrition, research, livestock, conservation, trade and more. Approximately $209 billion is scheduled to be spent on “nutrition programs” – mostly domestic food aid or food stamps.

          So the bill is costing us $60 billion a year. And most of the money is spent on food stamps. Also, Bush vetoed the bill and the veto was overridden by congress. Nice.

          But if most of this bill was for food stamps, then why do we have another bill that also pays for foodstamps?

          Or is this the bill that pays for food stamps? I’m confused.

          1. So the bill is costing us $60 billion a year.

            In the grossest accounting terms, yes. However, a lot of the costs of inefficient use of resources is hidden and doesn’t show up. Regulations can appear free and tariffs can appear to make us money, even though in economic terms they don’t. Their costs are hidden off balance sheet.

            1. Oh, don’t get me wrong, $60 billion a year is still ridiculous as far as I’m concerned. But I’m just trying to figure out how we pay for food stamps, and why $209 billion of the farm bill is supposedly set aside to fund food stamps. I thought we had a separate budget item that funds them.

              1. Can’t kill food stamps, so you can’t kill the farm bill. It ain’t rocket surgery.

                1. What I’ve found is that SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) appears to be funded by the Farm bill, but when I go to the web page for The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) ( http://www.fns.usda.gov/fns/about.htm ) it says the following “Congress appropriated $82.7 billion for FNS programs in Fiscal Year 2010.”

                  So is that on TOP of the $209 billion? Still confused.

                  1. Some of the food stamp money is discretionary spending, some is mandatory spending in the farm bill.

                  2. For example, I believe that WIC is annual discretionary appropriations, whereas SNAP is in the farm bill.

                    1. And therein lies the rub, as they say.

                      Snap: $209 billion from the farm bill over five years = $41 billion.

                      WIC or the Funding for FNS was $82.7 billion. So that’s $123 billion we spent in 2010 on food stamps.

                      That’s a lot of food stamps. I don’t necessarily have a problem with spending that much on food stamps, as in theory it is a program that keeps people from starving to death. But I find it hard to believe that out of $120 billion all of the money is going to actually feed the hungry.

                    2. But I find it hard to believe that out of $120 billion all of the money is going to actually feed the hungry.

                      Especially when there are websites out there promising to expose the “myth” that you have to be near the poverty line to get food stamps.

  10. US families pay nearly twice the world price for sugar and other sweeteners because of federal government policies intended to protect domestic beet and cane sugar producers from cheaper foreign competitors.

    But this is a GOOD thing, because Americans are FAT, so making us pay more for sugar is GOOD. Plus it helps the sugarbeet farmerZ!! (I grew up in sugarbeet Country = therefore, this is a good thing)

    Plus, since we are now on the ROADZZ! to single-payer healthcare, Society? has a “compelling interest” in the government reducing people’s sugar consumption so more people don’t get teh diabeetuses and end up warped and in academia like SugarFree.

    Or something…

    1. you make that argument so well someone might believe it. the danger of that is you probably just convinced someone, somewhere that gov’t interference is a good thing for america.

    2. Although I think most of the people that hate the sugar also hate the corn syrup more.

      1. Oh, sure.

        What they really hate is pleasure, after all.

  11. wasn’t there a bill passed that did away with farm subsidies once?

    As soon as commodity prices dipped, it was “revisited” I believe.

  12. Why try to fix the farm bill? Why not just vote it down?

    1. Because legislation never goes away. It is only amended.
      Once a law becomes law then it is the law because it is the law.

    2. Or kill it with fire.

      1. Nukes. Outer Space. Only Way. Etc.

    3. Why try to fix the farm bill? Why not just vote it down?

      Cuz they still want R&D dollars.

      In other words government subsidizing is not wrong…it is simply being given to the wrong people….my guess is that researchers wrote the white paper…and so the white paper recommends that the subsidies should go to researchers.

      Brilliant!

    4. Why not just vote it down?

      Because they have a system of a that sort of thing.

  13. A failure to increase publicly funded agricultural research and development (R&D) will likely have long-term consequences for the sustainability of US agriculture in a competitive global environment and for the natural resources on which it depends

    This is such bullshit. Between the fertilizer companies, the pesticide companies and seed companies, and the packaging/shipping companies I am pretty sure the private sector can fund its own research.

  14. Hello there Mike! Great post you got! Keep those ideas coming! I am glad I was able to stumble on your post. This is a good topic to research on and good luck on your future posts.

  15. In other words government subsidizing is not wrong…it is simply being given to the wrong people….my guess is that researchers wrote the white paper…and so the white paper recommends that the subsidies should go to researchers.

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