Or take the sugar program. Sugar prices have generally been double the world price for decades. It’s largely due to the government dictating how much sugar can be sold, and imposing quotas on imports -- quotas designed solely to protect the market share of domestic producers. Every sugar-sweetened product costs more to make, adding to everyone’s grocery bills. Both the House and Senate versions of the farm bill keep the sugar program intact.
Meanwhile, as I’ve detailed in previous columns, the bulk of agriculture subsidies go not to the small, struggling farmers that most Americans envision, but to huge “agri-businesses” with annual incomes well in excess of $1 million.
Yes, the House and Senate are finally dropping the direct payments made for years to farmer of certain commodities, such as corn, cotton, wheat and rice -- subsidies so indefensible, the American Farm Bureau Federation has called for their repeal. But they’re adding new programs that could prove even costlier, such as one that would force taxpayers to cover even minor losses suffered by farmers.
“A farm bill should serve the interests of the American people,” writes Heritage Foundation farm-bill expert Daren Bakst. “This first starts with taking politics out of the bill.” That means considering food stamps separately and making other needed reforms. Raising another bumper crop of subsidies and bad policy is simply unacceptable.