Acton Institute Powerblog

Farm Bill Takes Aim at Taxpayers

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The new farm bill may be one of the most shameless displays of government largesse ever, even more so when you consider who will most benefit from the pork. Citizens Against Government Waste called it “The most farcical farm bill in history.” The Economist dubbed it “Harvest of Disgrace.” The Wall Street Journal opines, “If farm prices stay high, consumers face higher grocery bills and farmers get rich. If farm prices fall, taxpayers kick in the difference and farmers still get rich.” The most pressing concern is that billions of dollars in subsidies will be going to the wealthiest agribusiness corporations in the country.

President Bush vetoed the bill, saying the “Legislation is too expensive and would send too much government money to wealthy farmers.” He wanted a subsidy cap on farms with a gross income of more than $200,000. Senator McCain also urged the President to veto the bill. Despite this warning, many Congressional Republicans joined with Democrats to override the veto. The Wall Street Journal declared:

House Republicans are equally as complicit, despite their claims of having found fiscal religion after 2006. About half of them voted to override a Republican President. GOP leaders refused to whip against the bill, and two of them – Roy Blunt of Missouri and Adam Putnam of Florida – even voted for it. These are the same House Republicans who last week unveiled their new slogan, “The Change You Deserve.”

As food prices soar, it’s plain wrong to transfer large sums of taxpayer money to enrich already wealthy corporate farms. Citizens Against Government Waste also declared of the bill:

It continues to dole out $5.2 billion annually in direct payments to individuals (many of whom are no longer farming) without any regard to prices or income. These direct payments, 60 percent of which go to the wealthiest 10 percent of recipients, were created in 1996 and were supposed to phase out by 2002.

Ray Nothstine is opinion editor of the the North State Journal in Raleigh, North Carolina. Previously, he was managing editor of Acton Institute's Religion & Liberty quarterly. In 2005 Ray graduated with a Master of Divinity (M.Div) degree from Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Ky. He also holds a B.A. in Political Science from The University of Mississippi in Oxford.


  • Warren A. McCarns Jr.

    It always amazes me how most of these farmers whine about how their crops are rotting in the field, because they can’t get enough legal and illegal cheap Mexican labor. With all the money they make and the tax-payer provided subsidies they receive, they should be required to provide portable toilets, shelter so the laborer’s don’t have to sleep in the fields, fresh clean water and soap for food sanitary reason’s, and showers. But instead this cheap labor has to use the crop fields for toilets, which is unsanitary for them and the consumer, and they have to wash in canal’s, which is not a very good idea for the worker or the public that uses that water. In the meantime the tax-paying public gets the privilege of providing subsidized housing for this cheap labor, that is supposed to be temporary in the first place. So what we have here is a whole lot of hidden costs to the american consumer, and the likes of Nancy Pelosi, Barbara Boxer, and Dianne Feintein continually vote for these massive farm subsidizes. When you really rationalize this, it comes down to stealing from the american tax-payer, plain and simple.

  • Diane Davis

    Did it ever occur to anyone that perhaps Americans will not work in the fields because taxpayer subsidized entitlement programs make it possible for Americans to live better on entitlements than working in low paying jobs AND to be highly selective about the work they will do.

  • Michael Allen

    Our goverment is a gang of thief’s.And i for one am sick and tired of them,and will do everything i can to make sure they will be replaced.

  • DQN

    Replace with whom? That’s the problem. It would be better to get pro-active with phone calls, letters, or best of all, a face-to-face meeting or two.

  • Dan Fitzgerald

    *What* farmers? Last time this bill passed, each of the following got tens of thousands of your dollars: David Rockefeller, Ted Turner, Scottie Pippen, David Obey (who was chair of the Ag comittee, and who presumably isn’t as ashamed as he should be for giving himself the equivalent of your annual tax bill).

  • I Agree 100%. The farmers are guilty of exploiting weaker human beings and of robbing the taxpayers.