Governor Daniel Malloy and Congressman Chris Murphy seem to take this advice to heart: with more than half of the country recovering from drought, they are calling on the House of Representatives to bring the trillion-dollar 2012 farm bill to the floor and pass it quickly.
Malloy and Murphy overlook the facts in order to advance a meaningless political talking point. They are using the drought to gain political cover to rush through a trillion-dollar spending bill.
In reality, farmers are already well-protected from the drought. The federal government heavily subsidizes crop insurance programs, which will allow farm businesses to recover as much as 90 percent of their expected revenue. Some farmers may even see record profits this season, since concerns about low supplies have driven up commodity prices. These record-high prices will be used to calculate losses, meaning that farmers will receive higher crop insurance payments.
Connecticut farmers are in better financial position than farmers in other states, since they get more financial help from the government. On top of the federal farm programs, our state government provides a high level of support for farmers through safety net programs funded through the Community Investment Act.
The farm bill will do little to help farmers deal with this summer’s drought, since the vast majority of the programs in the farm bill don’t even go toward farmers at all. Nearly 80 percent of the $955 billion bill would go toward social welfare programs, such as food stamps. Merely 9 percent of the total cost of the House bill would be spent on crop insurance. The remaining 11 percent mainly goes toward special interest handouts in the agriculture industry.
Fast tracking the bloated farm bill through the House would leave taxpayers holding the bag, who are already facing a national debt of nearly $16 trillion. Now is the time for government officials to look for ways to rein in their reckless spending spending—not promote it.
Unfortunately, the House version of the bill is prepared to spend more than ever. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that the 2012 farm bill will cost $955 billion from 2013-2022. American taxpayers can’t afford to continue this out-of-control spending.
Whatever House lawmakers decide to do, they shouldn’t rush to pass this trillion-dollar bill through just for the crop insurance—particularly since farmers are already protected. If they decide against bringing the farm bill to the floor, it would not hurt their recovery from the current drought at all.
The Constitution State is home to over 75,000 Americans for Prosperity activists. Rep. Murphy and his colleagues in the House should know that we will watch to see how they vote on this issue. With several options on the table, lawmakers in Washington should take a step back and consider real reforms to U.S. farm policy. They shouldn’t act with a false sense of urgency.
J.R. Romano is the state director of the Connecticut chapter of Americans for Prosperity.