Seriously? We Can't Even Cut Farm Subsidies?
Robert Samuelson says farm handouts exemplify our broken system
By Kevin Spak, Newser User
Posted Jan 7, 2013 1:45 PM CST
Farmers take pictures of a combine, an expensive farm machine, during a corn harvesting demonstration at the Husker Harvest Days fair, in Grand Island, Neb., Sept. 15, 2010.   (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

(Newser) – Farm subsidies are widely seen as the "low hanging fruit" of federal spending cuts, but with the milk cliff looming, Congress last week passed an agriculture bill that left them all essentially intact. And that, in a nutshell, is "the essence of the deficit problem," writes Robert Samuelson, in a Washington Post column titled, "If we can't kill farm subsidies, what can we kill?" Here is $10 billion to $15 billion in annual spending that is antiquated and nearly impossible to justify, yet eliminating it is unthinkable.

The subsidies haven't saved small farms, nor are they necessary to keep afloat the wildly profitable large ones. And farming no longer can claim it has the market in terms of volatility: "Autos, steel, entertainment, newspapers" and more industries have all seen wild swings. "If the subsidies ended tomorrow, wheat would still be grown in Kansas," Samuelson writes. Yet Congress keeps them alive, playing a "shell game," replacing one maligned subsidy with another. "Politics fosters inertia. People feel entitled," Samuelson reasons. But "we no longer have the luxury—as we did for decades—of carrying marginal, ineffectual, or wasteful programs." Click for Samuelson's full column.

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Showing 3 of 42 comments
Jan 8, 2013 3:57 AM CST
I am a Rancher / Farmer. I do not receive one dime of government subsidies nor does those neighbors of mine to my knowledge. I have heard of some rice farmers accepting government aid with bank loans and such but not certain of that. My point of this short note is I am much in favor of doing away with farm subsidies to ALL farming operations. Farming is tough and largely influenced by weather conditions from each year's yields. Nonetheless, those who never extend themselves beyond their ability to pay the bills always survive. I know for I have operated that way from my youth until an old man. I have had years rewarding as much as 23% profits of the gross revenues and have had a year or two in the negative arena. It is not the tax payers responsiblility to bail me out of occasional difficulties and I have never asked.
Jan 7, 2013 9:22 PM CST
Just wondering if the food stamp program is actually part of the "farm subsidy bill." You bet it is.
Jan 7, 2013 7:08 PM CST
What in hell would Michelle Bachmann do without her farm sibsidies?