In what is being hailed by many as a sign of progress in DC, House and Senate negotiators are finally poised to pass a farm bill next month. But at the Washington Post, Charles Lane has a fundamental question: Why does the US even need a farm bill? The answer, in the days of the Great Depression, used to be food security. But in an era of ultra-cheap food in which farms produce tons more output than farms of yore, that's "preposterous" now.
"Is there something about farming, as opposed to other businesses, that makes market economics uniquely inapplicable?" asks Lane, who thinks the bill is more about the "hammerlock" that the agriculture lobby has on the Capitol. Yes, the farm bill also includes the nation's food-stamp program, called SNAP. But that's simply the result of an old congressional deal that makes little sense anymore. Surely, Congress can find a way to help the poor without providing "corporate welfare for agribusiness." Click for his full column. (Read more farm bill stories.)