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Press Beats Farm Bill to a Pulp

Even as congressional lawmakers from both parties are patting themselves on the back for their fine work pushing through a $300 billion farm bill this week, the nation’s editorials pages had a different story to tell:

From The Washington Post (5-16):

The farm bill is the epitome of old-style Washington politics. A small number of farm-state senators from both parties demanded its most wasteful provisions, such as guaranteed payments to big cotton and rice growers and "disaster relief" for farmers in arid areas. These members of the less-representative body leveraged their right to filibuster into billions of dollars for people who are better off than the average taxpayer. The bill includes only the most tepid reforms, which, though trumpeted by the bill’s advocates, deny benefits to only a tiny handful of farms.

(5-16):

The bill is an inglorious piece of work tailored to the needs of big agriculture and championed by not only the usual bipartisan farm state legislators but also the Democratic leaders, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Every five years we get a new farm bill, and each time we are reminded that even reformers like Ms. Pelosi cannot resist the blandishments and power of the farmers.

(5-15):

[A] historic opportunity to end this country’s most wasteful and economically ruinous corporate welfare system has been lost.

(5-14):

Congress plans to renew the US agriculture law this week with no apologies for that fact that most of the subsidies will go to the wealthiest 10 percent of recipients and that a majority of this largess will enrich commercial farmers with an average income of $200,000.

[snip]

What makes this payoff to corporate farmers so indigestible this time around is that it comes when food producers are making record profits from high global prices and subsidies for grain- and sugar-based ethanol. Since the last renewal of the farm law in 2002, farmer income and crop prices have more than doubled.

(5-16):

Today, roughly 1 percent of Americans live on farms, when nearly a third did a century ago - and net cash income is expected to set a record this year of $96.6 billion. It’s indefensible to expect every American to subsidize the few who are doing fine.

Too bad for the sugar industry they don’t run their own paper.

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