Subsidies for US farmers growing, despite years of reform talk

| | February 3, 2016

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis.

Farm subsidies don't lack for critics. Free-market conservatives and welfare state-defending liberals alike have called for deep cuts in these payments to farmers. After all, farmers, as a group, are wealthier than the average American. Why should they get tens of billions of dollars each year in federal aid?

Two years ago, when the most recent Farm Bill emerged from Congress . . .The Senate Agriculture Committee noted in a press release that the new law would eliminate one big subsidy altogether and save taxpayers a total of $23.3 billion over the following 10 years.

Those projected savings, it turns out, were a mirage. According new estimates for Farm Bill spending over the next few years released by the Congressional Budget Office, total government aid to farmers will swell to $23.9 billion in 2017.

. . . .

. . .  Bruce Babcock, an agricultural economist at Iowa State University [says] "Farm policy isn't really about policy. It's about farmers getting their money. And the agriculture committees in Congress are there to make sure that farmers get their money."

. . . This latest Farm Bill ditched a politically unpopular subsidy program that wrote checks to farmers simply based on the number of acres they owned. In its place, the law set up new programs that pay farmers when commodity prices fall. And indeed they have been falling since the last Farm Bill.

Many observers, in fact, expected corn and soybean prices to fall, because they had been extraordinarily high in recent years.

. . . .

If prices stay low, or rebound, spending under some of these new programs should decline, but only gradually — and within a few years Congress will once again revise the Farm Bill.

Read full, original post: Farm Subsidies Persist And Grow, Despite Talk Of Reform



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