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The New Farm Bill Would Send Even More Welfare to the Super Rich (and Their Extended Families)

It would also legalize hemp, which is pretty cool.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue eats the fruit of the ethanol plant while promoting the 2018 farm bill on hisU.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue eats the fruit of the ethanol plant while promoting the 2018 farm bill on hisThe new federal farm bill contains a provision that will legalize industrial hemp and its byproducts at the federal level. This is good news and, in the event this bill makes its way to President Trump's desk during the lame duck session, we should commend Congress for taking the bold step of legalizing a plant that cannot get you high but can be turned into really cool necklaces.

That said, the rest of the 2018 farm bill sucks even more than most farm bills.

The nonprofit Environmental Working Group (EWG) has, over the last several years, tracked the amount of money "city slickers and beach bums" receive from federal farm bills. In 2017, EWG reported that "19,832 people in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and other big cities received $108 million in farm subsidies." That was up from 17,836 people and $63 million in the two years prior.

The 2018 farm bill is somehow worse. Here's EWG on a section of the bill that would pay even more welfare to rich land owners and their relatives:

Sec. 1603 of H.R. 2 would make a farmer's "cousins, nieces and nephews" eligible for certain subsidies—even if they don't live or work on the farm.

Under current law, a farmer's immediate family members—his spouse, grandparents, siblings, and adult children—are eligible to receive up $125,000 annually in subsidies for covered commodities like corn and peanuts. If a farmer is a member of a partnership, each member of the partnership (and their spouses) are also eligible for up to $125,000 in subsidies.

Technically, each member of the family or partnership has to be "actively engaged in farming," but this requirement can be met through a phone conversation about what to plant and when to sell the crop.

I'm no expert in welfare loopholes, but this one seems big enough for Kenny Chesney to drive his tractor through. And you know it's extra bad because Sen. Chuck Grassley (R–Iowa), who's never met an ethanol giveaway he didn't like, plans to vote against the bill due to the extended family provision. (He speculates that the bill will pass anyway.) According to his Republican colleagues, the handout would "encourage more people to be involved in farming." I, too, would be willing to pick up the phone and talk corn for six figures a year. But if all it takes is the occasional chat with Uncle Pete back in Kansas, why in god's name would I go through the trouble of doing more?

The R Street Institute, a free-market think tank, interprets the extended family provision as allowing for "an unlimited number of distant relatives and their spouses to each collect up to $125,000 a year in subsidies, so long as they fill out the necessary paperwork."

In a statement, R Street's Caroline Kitchens says that "[l]awmakers should reject this package, pass a one-year extension of the current farm bill and go back to the drawing board in the 116th Congress to craft a new bill that considers the interests of taxpayers alongside those of special interests."

This likely won't happen, but legal hemp will be a nice consolation prize.

Photo Credit: Lance Cheung/ZUMA Press/Newscom

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  • Uncle Jay||

    Well of course the new farm bill would send even more welfare to the super rich.
    Isn't that what crony capitalism is all about?

  • Jerryskids||

    Please tell me Sonny Perdue isn't so stupid he's trying to eat an ear of field corn. Or is that why the people behind him are laughing at his dumb ass? Does our Secretary of Agriculture not know the difference between sweet corn and field corn?

  • Dillinger||

    thinks he's a crow?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Sonny Perdue grew up on a farm and his dad was a farmer.

  • ||

    And at the risk of outing myself I'd lay down good money that, based on the size, shape, and color of the kernels, that it is sweet corn.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    "U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue eats the fruit of the ethanol plant while promoting the 2018 farm bill on his"

    Who added this picture caption? That is maybe the person who cannot tell the difference between sweet corn and other types of corn.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Pedro for President!

  • Dillinger||

    >>>That said, the rest of the 2018 farm bill sucks even more than most farm bills.

    so maybe they break it down to smaller bills so things make sense oh wait

  • Telcontar the Wandchipper||

    You know who else encouraged more people to be involved in farming...?

  • Dillinger||

    Allis & Chalmers

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Chairman Mao?

  • Tony||

    Owen Lars?

  • Telcontar the Wandchipper||

    And so Tony justifies his continued existence for another 24 hours.

    You can't keep delaying the inevitable forever, though. Tick tock...

  • Vaelyn||

    Oliver Wendell Douglas?

  • Telcontar the Wandchipper||

    So, did none of you guess the correct answers (there are two), or are you all just stubborn, uncooperative smart-asses? You're all going to hell either way.

  • Rich||

    Technically, each member of the family or partnership has to be "actively engaged in farming," but this requirement can be met through a phone conversation about what to plant and when to sell the crop.

    "Ask me how business is."

    "OK. How's business?"

    "Pretty good, 'cause now I can write this lunch off as a business meeting!"

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Welfare is bullshit and detrimental to America's overall wellbeing.

  • a ab abc abcd abcde abcdef ahf||

    Unless it's welfare for steel and aluminum producers as established by Daddy Trump.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Tariffs are welfare now? I thought they were taxes?

    Maybe you trolls should make up your mind.

  • a ab abc abcd abcde abcdef ahf||

    Tariffs raise prices and reduce competition, the very definition of crony capitalism, which is also the very definition of corporate welfare.

    You should ask Trump for better definitions.

  • prolefeed||

    Taking money from someone is not welfare by any non bullshit definition of that word.

  • a ab abc abcd abcde abcdef ahf||

    Christ you Trumpistas are ignorant. Raising the price of one competitive commodity allows competitors to raise their prices. It *encourages* price raises and that is in fact the *point* of tariffs, to raise domestic prices to encourage domestic production.

    How the fuck dumb are you idiots anyway?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Tariffs are a lot of things but they aint welfare.

    Your programmer needs to update your trolling software on the iphone.

  • a ab abc abcd abcde abcdef ahf||

    loveconstitution1789|12.3.18 @ 10:20AM|#

    Do you need me to link the rules of NAFTA and USCMA so you can compare and contrast the "worseness" for us?
  • loveconstitution1789||

    Poor trolls. All dressed up and nobody pays any attention to you.

  • buybuydandavis||

    Are US income taxes and corporate taxes subsidies to Chinese aluminum producers?

  • ||

    Sec. 1603 of H.R. 2 would make a farmer's "cousins, nieces and nephews" eligible for certain subsidies—even if they don't live or work on the farm.

    Under current law, a farmer's immediate family members—his spouse, grandparents, siblings, and adult children—are eligible to receive up $125,000 annually in subsidies for covered commodities like corn and peanuts. If a farmer is a member of a partnership, each member of the partnership (and their spouses) are also eligible for up to $125,000 in subsidies.

    Technically, each member of the family or partnership has to be "actively engaged in farming," but this requirement can be met through a phone conversation about what to plant and when to sell the crop.

    If only there were a political party opposed to the expansion of such arbitrary partnerships and the benefits afforded to them...

  • Echospinner||

    +

    If only. Since I have been hanging out here I learned there was one.

    I remember when there were a few yahoo groups. Guess I missed some stuff.

  • SIV||

    we should commend Congress for taking the bold step of legalizing a plant that cannot get you high

    Not your father's cosmotarian magazine!

  • buybuydandavis||

    "But if all it takes is the occasional chat with Uncle Pete back in Kansas, why in god's name would I go through the trouble of doing more?"

    I wonder how my relatives in Nebraska are doing.

  • Robert||

    I distrust any article based on info from the EWG. Their cosmetics ingredients evaluations are badly biased, & biased badly, so I discount other stuff they evaluate. What's the total take expected to be from the farm bill as compared to previous ones? Maybe it's an improvement even w/o the hemp provision.

  • Echospinner||

    I thought hemp was legal. They sell stuff at Krogers with hemp in it. If that is not the definition of legal I do not know what is.

    Just recently, we have an older dog, the vet recommended CBD oil to help with her aches and pains. It is made from hemp. It is totally legal. She gets bacon flavor.

    If someone could explain the legality of hemp I would appreciate it.

    So far it seems to be helping the dog. Last night we watched Wizard of Oz tuned to Pink Floyd dark side of the moon and she loved it. ;)

  • Telcontar the Wandchipper||

    "And there were absolutely no other cannabinoids in the room at that time?"

    "Yes, officer."

    "Alright. Book him."

  • TxJack 112||

    Just more evidence why the RINOs in Congress need to go. This proposal is so stupid that it defies logic. It never ceases to amaze me how Congress is so gifted at thinking up ways to give our money to people who neither need nor deserve it.

  • Vince Thomas||

    It's such a tough topic, so much goes into this bill and as you say, hemp legalization is great!

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  • akita96th||

    People on the bottom getting peanuts for welfare and being made the enemy of the state for being poor and needy and yet these rich fuks can each personally milk it for $125k tax dollars a year is beyond deplorable...To hear a trump supporter bad mouth someone for buying a stinking candy bar on food stamps and yet say nothing to this large scale theft of tax dollars to the rich and shameless is also deplorable. I think they are more to the despicable side of things. Uneducated shitheads....

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