The Daily Signal posted an article yesterday about the agricultural spending portion of the federal budget. Part of the problem in curbing agricultural spending is the fact that the food stamp program is included in the agricultural budget. Thus when cuts can be made to the food stamp program because of an improving economy, agricultural subsidies can be increased without appearing to spend more money. The first step in solving this problem would be to separate the food stamp program from the agricultural program. This would provide more honest numbers showing the cost of these programs. However, there are also some other problem areas.
The article reports:
- The safety net for agricultural producers (commodity/disaster assistance and crop insurance) is projected to cost $1 billion more than originally projected over the course of the five years of the farm bill.
- The two massive new commodity programs, Agricultural Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage, are projected to cost about $13 billion more than was originally projected ($31 billion compared to $18 billion over the first five years of the programs).
- The 2014 farm bill, when it passed, was projected to cost an astonishing $352 billion more than the 2008 farm bill ($956 billion compared to $604 billion). Almost all of this was due to a massive increase in food stamp costs.
The article further reports:
Although food stamp costs have come down a little since 2013 (they cost $73 billion in 2016), food stamp spending was still close to double what it was in 2008.
The latest projections show the four largest titles of the farm bill (about 99 percent of the farm bill costs) will save more than what was originally projected for the five-year farm bill, but almost all of that is connected to food stamps ($27.3 billion of the $30.8 billion in savings).
These food stamp savings have generally been attributed to a better economy, not the 2014 farm bill.
Now that there has been a minor reduction in the still-massive amount of food stamp spending (it is still near record highs), some legislators want to use those “savings” to provide cover for keeping or even expanding farm handouts.
The American taxpayer can no longer afford to be an insurance provider to farmers. This is another place where the government needs to get out of the way and let the free market take over. It is time for Washington to balance the needs of the taxpayers against the runaway spending of Congress. We are dangerously close to the point where there are so many people riding in the wagon that those not in the wagon do not have the strength to pull it.