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Farm Bill Deserves a Veto

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Washington, D.C., May 9, 2008—The Competitive Enterprise Institute applauds Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer’s announcement yesterday that President Bush will veto the Farm Bill that the House-Senate conference negotiated and announced on May 8, 2008. The legislation, instead of reforming costly and wasteful farm programs, expands some of the worst farm support programs and does little or nothing to curtail the huge payments and subsidies that even rich farmers receive.

One particular example is the “new” sugar program, which provides an even sweeter deal for sugar cane and sugar beet producers. The legislation will raise sugar price supports and mandate that domestic allotments cover at least 85 percent of the sugar estimated for domestic consumption. Provisions would also further restrict competition, as surplus sugar imports would be purchased by U.S. Department of Agriculture and used for ethanol production. Besides the cost to taxpayers for this direct subsidy, consumers would pay even more because of restrictions on the sugar supply.

Policymakers in the pockets of the farm lobby focus on “government” payments to farmers, when in reality consumers and taxpayers are the ones who pay for these bloated farm programs. Even though agriculture leaders said that they had made adjustments to offset the threatened Presidential veto, the nearly $300 billion deal announced on Thursday deserves to be rejected not only by the President, but before then, by the House and the Senate.

For a short video explanation of the problems with U.S. farm policy, watch Farming for Dollars: How Farm Subsidies Harm Consumers, Taxpayers and the Poor.

CEI is a non-profit, non-partisan public policy group dedicated to the principles of free enterprise and limited government. For more information about CEI, please visit our website at www.cei.org.