In a somewhat surprising editorial, (section 1, p. 22) the Chicago Tribune editors lament the Senate passing a $1 trillion farm bill on Monday, June 11th. The bill represents all that is wrong with Washington: it gives perverse incentives to farmers to take unnecessary risks because if those risks fail, the farmers are no held accountable. Indeed, the taxpayers are left holding the bag. Snip:
If Congress gets its way, the program would grow to at least $9 billion a year over the coming decade, and probably a lot more.
The subsidies encourage farmers to obtain so much coverage that they take risks no prudent operator would take. They plant on unsuitable land, knowing that if a crop fails, they can make a claim. They usually plant corn, the nation’s No. 1 cash crop, which is in demand partly from companies that brew it into ethanol fuel — an industry that owes its existence to more government subsidies.
Consumers are also going to be faced with higher dairy prices as well as the bill will drive up prices by forcing cuts in production should it be determined there is an “oversupply.” The editorial is spot on–it’s time to “wean the agricultural industry off of welfare.” I would add, it’s time to give consumers a break and allow the market to work as it does best: by providing low prices and quality products, and that includes what we consume in food.