National Review has an excellent editorial today, blasting the new farm bill:
For a long time now, federal farm subsidies have rewarded farmers for producing far more than they can profitably sell. Removing the subsidies would precipitate a painful downward adjustment for the nine percent of farming operations that receive roughly 54 percent of the payments, but sustaining them year after year exacerbates the costs of overproduction: the gross inefficiencies, the environmental degradation, and, of course, the redistribution of billions of tax dollars to farm families whose incomes are well above the national average.
The piece goes on discuss some of the alternative and competing proposals that have been introduced in Congress, but my sense is that this train is unstoppable. Why? The editors nail it precisely, with this:
The benefits of farm subsidies are concentrated in the hands of just a few farmers, who accordingly have an incentive to organize and lobby Congress. The costs, by contrast, are widely distributed. This political calculus means that there are powerful forces behind the status quo. With the current farm bill set to expire, the farm lobby has already won over the House of Representatives, which passed a new farm bill back in July. Barring any surprises, the Senate Agriculture Committee will follow suit today.
My congressman, unfortunately, is one of the biggest cheerleaders for the new House bill. I tend to agree with his positions on nearly every other issue, but on this one we definitely part company.