Printed letters, February 28, 2014

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As Tim Sullivan and Greg Yankee authoritatively opine—“U.S. Farm Bill touches everyone in Colorado”—there is much to like about that recently enacted legislation.
Thus, in addition to ameliorating the cuts to Food Stamps sought by “Teapublicans” (including Scott Tipton), H.R. 2642 – the five-year $956 billion “Agricultural Act of 2014” – funded many worthwhile programs (while cutting overall appropriations therefor),“helped protect” local orchardists and vintners, and (thanks to Senator Bennet) improved the conservation easement program. 

However, as the Sentinel previously reported and editorialized—“Farm Bill yields mixed bag of reform”(January 30, 2014) – H.R. 2642 also aptly illustrated the hidden “costs of compromise” taxpayers must bear to enact sound policies when cynical “conservatives” extort inclusion of bad policies as the price for their votes.

Thus, first, while the 2014 Farm Bill ends the “direct” subsidy program—under which Congressmen receiving payments were required to disclose them, it substituted an even more expensive “indirect” subsidy program—payments from which Congressmen are not required to disclose, thanks to Tipton and his cronies on the House Ag Committee.

Second, with “fraud, waste, and abuse” more rampant in farm subsidy programs than in any other federal “entitlement” program – and with median household income in the U.S. at $51,000 – the law now authorizes subsidy payments to corporate farms and millionaire farmers earning up to $900,000 (after deducting all expenses incurred in “farming”).

Third, H.R. 2642 also protects Republicans’ favored groups (only) from the vagaries of the vaunted “free market”—by creating an insurance program to protect farmers against price fluctuations, while guaranteeing insurers a 16% profit.
Fourth, in order to continue gratuitous subsidies to politically-connected water-wasting cotton farmers, we will annually pay $147.3 million to “bribe” Brazil to suspend its case before the World Trade Organization alleging illegal agricultural subsidies.

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