A major new program in the recently enacted farm bill could increase taxpayer-financed payments to farmers by billions of dollars if high commodity prices decline to more typical levels, administration and congressional budget officials said yesterday.Okay, at the first, I am a huge opponent of farm subsidies, largely because they do more to keep food prices higher than anything else. I don't mind crop insurance, flood insurance or other insurances, but not subsidies.
The final details of the new program were approved at the end of four months of House-Senate negotiations over the legislation and received almost no attention during floor debate last week. The voluntary program guarantees farmers a subsidy if they suffer losses because of low prices or poor crops.
Since the amount of the subsidy for 2009 is tied to recent record prices, farmers could reap a windfall if prices drop suddenly.
"I don't think many people on the House side who voted for the farm bill realized there were $16 billion in potential higher costs in there," said Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Charles F. Conner. "The budget exposure is tremendous."
A blog item posted Monday by the agricultural magazine Pro Farmer described the new program, known as Average Crop Revenue Election (ACRE), as "lucrative beyond expectations," and said it is a "no brainer" for farmers to sign up for it.
The Agriculture Department estimates that subsidy payments to corn farmers alone could reach $10 billion a year if prices -- which have been $5 to $6 a bushel -- were to drop to $3.25 a bushel, a level seen as recently as last year. The $10 billion figure assumes most farmers would participate in the program, a view disputed by key lawmakers.
Second, it is important to remember that most of these farm subsidies don't go to the "family farmer" but to corporations that do most of the farming in this country. It is corporate welfare at its worst. The notion that "most famers" would not sign up for the program is rediculous. If the government were going to give me money when the price of anything I own or produce falls, you can bet I am going to sign up for it. It is free money!!!
Third, as the agriculture secretary pointed out, the bill has a huge budget exposure of probably more than $10 billion.
When are lawmakers going to wise up and really start talking about cutting back on all the giveaways. When is someone going to step up to the plate and really present the absolute ludicrousness of these subsidies and government spending.