Action is heating up on the next farm bill, as the Senate Agriculture Committee today completed its markup of their bill which will go to the Senate for consideration. The House is scheduled to release its markup on Wednesday. No surprise – the Senate bill is replete with subsidies and support programs that cost tens of billions of dollars.
Yesterday, in anticipation of the markup, eleven taxpayer and policy groups sent a letter to the House and the Senate with its listing of the “Terrible Twelve” – the twelve most egregious farm policies. The groups urged policymakers to reform or eliminate these costly and distorting programs:
- Direct payments
- Federal crop insurance
- Shallow loss program
- USDA Trade Promotion programs
- Sugar program
- Diary Market Stabilization Plan
- Target prices
- Rural broadband
- Mandatory assessments
- Cotton program
- Ethanol’s Feedstock Flexibility Program
- Biomass Crop Assistance Program
Last week, a coalition organized by CEI sent a letter to policymakers urging reform of the U.S. sugar program, which costs consumers an estimated $4 billion a year in extra costs.
Amendments are likely to be introduced on the floor in both the House and the Senate to reform some of these wasteful programs. But the farm programs are a classic example of concentrated benefits and dispersed costs. In addition, because nutrition and food stamp programs make up the majority of the costs of the farm bill, both urban and rural policymakers form an unholy bipartisan alliance to push farm bills through. Bipartisanship isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.