Tuesday, May 21, 2024
Hawai'i Free Press

Current Articles | Archives

Tuesday, September 10, 2013
The Only Way to Reform the Farm Bill
By Heritage Foundation @ 2:05 PM :: 3836 Views :: Agriculture

Morning Bell: The Only Way to Reform the Farm Bill

by Daren Bakst, Heritage Foundation, September 10, 2013

Lawmakers return to Washington today with only nine legislative days in the House before some farm bill programs expire at the end of the month. With the debt ceiling looming and Congress considering military action in Syria, it’s nearly impossible to develop real reforms.

The best option before Congress is a new extension of the 2008 farm bill. The existing farm bills passed by the House and Senate are flawed, so a compromise with these bills would only lead to bad policy for the American people.

Extending the existing law would give Congress time to identify the best ways to keep the food stamp program and farm programs separated from each other.

Ending the Unholy Alliance

With close to 80 percent of “farm bill” costs consisting of food stamps, Congress has for decades combined these disparate programs into one bill, enabling it to avoid addressing the merits of the programs.

Separating the two is a prerequisite for reform.

The House, unlike the Senate, took this critical step in July. Unfortunately, lawmakers missed the purpose of separation, which is to reform the agriculture-only farm bill.

Attempting to compromise with the Senate would almost certainly put food stamps back in the farm bill.

That’s why Congress should not force through a farm bill simply for the sake of passing a bill. An extension would give lawmakers the chance to address critical reforms.

Problems Remain

The House and Senate farm bills fail to make even common-sense reforms and in some cases, make things worse. For instance:

  • Both bills add costly shallow-loss programs that protect farmers from even minor losses, effectively guaranteeing their income.
  • Both bills increase the cost of crop insurance, the most expensive farm program. While President Obama would cut about $12 billion over 10 years, the Senate would increase costs by about $5 billion, and the House would increase costs by about $9 billion.
  • The House bill would not make a single common-sense reform to crop insurance, such as imposing caps on the subsidies received by farmers or implementing a means test. The Senate bill would make only a minor reform that would reduce premium subsidies for farmers with adjusted gross income of $750,000 or more.
  • Both bills leave intact the sugar program, which drives up prices for consumers and has been estimated to cost three manufacturing jobs for every sugar growing and harvesting job saved.
  • The House bill would make two new costly programs—the shallow-loss and reference price programs—permanent law. (That is, the programs do not sunset like most other programs.) The House bill also makes the sugar program permanent law. As a result, Congress would have far less reason to revisit and fix these programs in the future.
  • The Senate bill has no work requirement of any kind for food stamp recipients.

Any savings that can be achieved by passing a bill now pale in comparison to what the savings should be if sound policy is adopted later. By passing a bad farm bill, Congress would be locking in five years of bad public policy.

An Extension Is Common

Congress just passed a farm bill extension at the start of 2013. Farmers were fine, and the food stamp program continued without missing a beat.

The choice is not between enacting a farm bill and doing nothing. Instead, the choice is between pushing bad policy through Congress and taking some time, by passing an extension, so that sound policy can be developed in a deliberate and transparent manner.

Read the Morning Bell and more en español every day at Heritage Libertad.

Quick Hits:

Links

TEXT "follow HawaiiFreePress" to 40404

Register to Vote

2aHawaii

Aloha Pregnancy Care Center

AntiPlanner

Antonio Gramsci Reading List

A Place for Women in Waipio

Ballotpedia Hawaii

Broken Trust

Build More Hawaiian Homes Working Group

Christian Homeschoolers of Hawaii

Cliff Slater's Second Opinion

DVids Hawaii

FIRE

Fix Oahu!

Frontline: The Fixers

Genetic Literacy Project

Grassroot Institute

Habele.org

Hawaii Aquarium Fish Report

Hawaii Aviation Preservation Society

Hawaii Catholic TV

Hawaii Christian Coalition

Hawaii Cigar Association

Hawaii ConCon Info

Hawaii Debt Clock

Hawaii Defense Foundation

Hawaii Family Forum

Hawaii Farmers and Ranchers United

Hawaii Farmer's Daughter

Hawaii Federation of Republican Women

Hawaii History Blog

Hawaii Jihadi Trial

Hawaii Legal News

Hawaii Legal Short-Term Rental Alliance

Hawaii Matters

Hawaii Military History

Hawaii's Partnership for Appropriate & Compassionate Care

Hawaii Public Charter School Network

Hawaii Rifle Association

Hawaii Shippers Council

Hawaii Together

HiFiCo

Hiram Fong Papers

Homeschool Legal Defense Hawaii

Honolulu Navy League

Honolulu Traffic

House Minority Blog

Imua TMT

Inouye-Kwock, NYT 1992

Inside the Nature Conservancy

Inverse Condemnation

July 4 in Hawaii

Land and Power in Hawaii

Lessons in Firearm Education

Lingle Years

Managed Care Matters -- Hawaii

MentalIllnessPolicy.org

Missile Defense Advocacy

MIS Veterans Hawaii

NAMI Hawaii

Natatorium.org

National Parents Org Hawaii

NFIB Hawaii News

NRA-ILA Hawaii

Obookiah

OHA Lies

Opt Out Today

Patients Rights Council Hawaii

Practical Policy Institute of Hawaii

Pritchett Cartoons

Pro-GMO Hawaii

RailRipoff.com

Rental by Owner Awareness Assn

Research Institute for Hawaii USA

Rick Hamada Show

RJ Rummel

School Choice in Hawaii

SenatorFong.com

Talking Tax

Tax Foundation of Hawaii

The Real Hanabusa

Time Out Honolulu

Trustee Akina KWO Columns

Waagey.org

West Maui Taxpayers Association

What Natalie Thinks

Whole Life Hawaii