Scaling back subsidies

Weaning some folks from federal government subsidies created to protect family farmers has never been easy. Even programs designed to move recipients off farm subsidies have morphed into bureacratic boondoggles that simply disperse cash, whether farming occurs or not.

Fortunately, it appears one such program,  which pays out billions of dollars to people who own land but may not live on it or even grow any crops on it, could soon be killed.

According to the Washington Post, committees in both the House and Senate have passed farm bills that would eliminate a program created in 1996 to help farmers transition away from government subsidies with declining payments.

However, within a few years, as farm income declined and lobbying from farm organizations increased, the program changed from one of declining payments to constant, direct payments. People living in large cities received payments for land they owned hundreds of miles away. And the program’s anticipated sunset date in 2003 was repeatedly delayed.

We hope the costly program is eliminated this year, and that it’s a first step toward real reform of the farm-subsidy system.


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