Home
CA Water News
Water Laws
San Joaquin River
Public Responses
Board of Directors
Mission & History
Videos
Donors List
Donate
Public Relations
Newsletter
Search Our Site
About Us
Contact Us


Dec 18, 2014
Nothing's Changed!
As usual, the Senate can't and won't change any aspect of the federal rules for the smelt. Until they do, we live with the same old rules. ... more

Dec 11, 2014
Reignite the Water Wars!
Farmers know they're in a water war because they're having to pull trees out of the ground or just let them die. ... more

Dec 10, 2014
DiFi Delivers Again!
But, in the end, it's the same old DiFi. Over promising, under delivering. ... more
Recent California Water News

Farm Bill 'Reform' Stuffed With Pork

Jun 10, 2012

San Francisco Chronicle

Every once in a while, Democrats and Republicans can work together. Witness Thursday's 90-8 vote to bring a "bipartisan reform" farm bill before the Senate. In the expectation that the bill will garner the necessary 60 votes, the House Agriculture Committee has changed its schedule to allow a floor debate on the measure in July. The White House applauded. This is Washington's version of the dawning of the Age of Aquarius.

There's just one little problem. Somehow, whenever the two parties work together, they end up spending a lot of other people's money. The Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2012, co-authored by Sens. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and Pat Roberts, R-Kan., is a 10-year, $1 trillion package.

Stabenow boasts that her bill would produce $23.6 billion in savings from what Washington would spend under current law. "We examined every agriculture program to see what was working and what wasn't," said she. That's all she could squeeze out of a $969 billion package? President Obama proposed shaving $32 billion from that pot. The GOP House budget calls for a reduction of almost $180 billion over 10 years.

Stabenow does have one accomplishment over which she is free to crow, and she has: "The era of direct payments is over. We're not going to be paying farmers for crops they don't grow." The end of the direct-payments program should save taxpayers about $5 billion annually.

Alas, noted Citizens Against Government Waste spokeswoman Leslie Paige, "It's like a Whac-A-Mole game with these programs." Goodbye, direct payments. Hello, new crop insurance subsidy.

As the New York Times reported, the government already spends $7 billion to pay two-thirds of farmers' crop insurance. The new farm bill creates an additional $3 billion annual subsidy to further pad the cost of risk insurance.

"They're using 75 percent of the savings that they get from cutting traditional farm subsidies to create yet another kind of farm subsidy that guarantees income for farmers," Environmental Working Group Vice President Craig Cox complained. His group supports subsidies for farmers' "deep" losses. Cox favors what "most people would consider a safety net." But he said that "what's being proposed is more like what most people would consider a security blanket."

Advocates on the right and left have joined to fight the bill. Liberal groups want to redirect the money that subsidizes big agriculture toward nutrition programs and environmental protection.

Fiscal hawks don't like the big spending. "We don't want to reprogram any of it," said Paige. "We want it all to go to the debt and deficit reduction."

Both sides can agree that it doesn't make sense for the federal government to throw so much money at big agriculture that farmers have an incentive to engage in over-planting - which might encroach on wildlife - as government programs reduce the risk of planting on marginal land.

"A real reform bill would have ended direct payments, rejected new farm entitlements and made important reforms to crop insurance subsidies that are slated to cost $90 billion over the next 10 years," Cox said in a statement.

While Stabenow and company have been patting themselves on the back for ferreting out wasteful spending, the Congressional Budget Office reported that her farm bill would "make popcorn an eligible crop for program benefits."

Popcorn? As Paige explained it, there's a way you can tell this so-called reform is a weasel. "You can tell," she said, "because no one's screaming."

 

What's in the farm bill

The bill, which is revised every five years, is expected to cost about $969 billion over the next decade but cuts current spending by $23 billion. It would:

-- Eliminate direct payments from the government to farmers regardless of whether they plant a crop. The payments program now costs about $5 billion a year.

-- Make an expanded crop insurance program the primary safety net for farmers. To replace direct payments, the bill would create a crop insurance subsidy, at a cost of $3 billion a year, to cover losses farmers suffer before their crop insurance policies kick in.

-- Cut $4.5 billion from food-stamp programs.

Source: New York Times

Debra J. Saunders is a San Francisco Chronicle columnist. E-mail: dsaunders@sfchronicle.com

Join Our Mailing List


Dec 19, 2014
Pumps ped from BDCP
How many small family farmers do you know that can stay profitable when water approaches $800 an acre foot or more? Not just for a year or two. Forever. ... more

Dec 18, 2014
Definition of a Drought
A drought by definition starts after two below normal rain years. ... more

Nov 22, 2014
EPA Food Waste Campaign
The population of the USA is 316 million people. 34 million pounds of food amounts to about one tenth of a pound of food per person per year, or less than 2 oz. of food per person per year. ... more

Nov 20, 2014
We Need a Water Plan
The whole west better work together as a region on water supply or it will be water wars between the states ... more

Nov 20, 2014
Big Pistachio
"Paramount Farms International predicts U.S. commercial pistachio production could reach the 1-billion-pound milestone between 2018 to 2020." ... more

Nov 19, 2014
Wasting Water
Always a good way to promote a friendly and safe neighborhood, NARK on each other. ... more

Nov 14, 2014
Paying for the Tunnels
How many small family farmers out there can afford to pay three times as much per acre foot of water? ... more

Nov 04, 2014
Drought and Mexican Avacados
Yeah you're right, US politics are way more corrupt than the Mexican government. ... more

Nov 03, 2014
Rain Doesn't Make a Dent
I'm sure the whole drought thing is more tempting but come on...it's Saturday morning for pity sake ... more
Copyright © 2006 -   Families Protecting The Valley, All Rights Reserved.
Web Design & Hosting by Netricks