The Untouchable Farm Subsidies

January 25th, 2011 | Simcha Weinstein | Comments Off on The Untouchable Farm Subsidies

As the new Republican controlled House of Representatives began business last week, the Republican Study Committee (RSC), a conservative Caucus within the House, unveiled their spending cuts proposal, planning to cut $2.5 trillion over the next decade. For the short term the cuts would have substantial impact on cutting and eliminating transportation and infrastructure projects, energy research, as well as aid to the states. Over the long term these cuts would have a dramatic affect on education, medical research and law enforcement, easily eliminating tens of thousands of jobs.

Amazingly, the proposal made no mention of farm subsidies. From Politico:

As eager as they are for a fight with the White House, Republican budget cutters have a problem in their own back pasture: what to do about a system of farm subsidies that’s still pumping billions into GOP districts at a time of record income for producers.

Net cash farm income for 2010 is projected to finish near $92.5 billion — a 41 percent increase even after subtracting payments from the government. Yet conservatives are almost tongue-tied, as seen last week with the Republican Study Committee’s proposal to eliminate relatively modest subsidies for an organic food growers program without mentioning the nearly $5 billion in much larger government direct payments to farm country including to the home districts of many of the RSC’s members.

Indeed, 24 of the RSC’s estimated 165 members hail from the House Agriculture Committee, and total annual direct payments to their districts run more than $1.09 billion a year, according to a POLITICO review of data compiled by the Environmental Working Group. RSC Chairman Rep. Jim Jordan doesn’t sit on the Agriculture panel but represents an Ohio district that ranks among the top 50 recipients of farm subsidies, including $30 million in annual direct payments.

This really isn’t about Republicans vs Democrats. Typically farm subsidies are a relatively easy nix when it comes to budget cuts, independent of any party ideology. Both Republicans and Democrats alike have taken issue with the unnecessary subsidies to already highly profitable farms. This is about . . . well, you fill in the blank . . . It’s really difficult to understand the thinking here. But, just to be clear, a modest amount for an Organic Food Growers Program was found unacceptable and needing to be trimmed, but large subsidies to the wealthiest and most successful farmers were perfectly fine, and taken off the chopping block even before the cut and slash process began. Geesh!