A new goody included in this year's go-round is an absolutely nonsensical bit of raw redistribution - and not to some destitute grain grower:
And just as, on the individual scale, gummint largesse goes to folks far removed from the combine and the tractor, on the level of farms of various size, it's not the guy in bib overalls with calloused hands who's getting the preponderance of the gravy:
Farm bills are often touted as a way to nurture small businesses, protect “the little guy,” and save family farms, but the reality is quite different. A 2017 Congressional Research Service report found that “farms with market revenue equal to or greater than $250,000 accounted for 12 percent of farm households, but received 60 percent of federal farm program payments.” Other research by Vincent Smith at the American Enterprise Institute found that the smallest 80 percent of farms received just 10 percent of all subsidies.Here's some other market distortions stirred into the mix:
This year's bill, like its predecessors, is a huge jumble of subsidies and other programs, such as quotas and price setting, that dole out welfare to corporate agricultural interests. It creates barriers for new farmers, wastes resources, and creates risk for farmers and taxpayers alike.
The bill leaves intact numerous harmful policies, including programs designed to shield the U.S. sugar industry from competition, which help keep U.S. sugar prices double those of the rest of the world. This hurts consumers and sugar-using businesses alike.
And when it comes to reining in cronyism and abuse, the final bill actually worsens the status quo. It would expand two expensive new programs from the 2014 farm bill: Agriculture Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage. ARC covers farmers for revenue losses, while PLC covers them for low prices. Under the 2014 bill, farmers had to choose one or the other. But this bill would let them go back and forth each year to maximize their subsidies.I used to write for a now-defunct farm magazine and on occasion I'd get an assignment of a sort of wonky, policy-level nature. After a couple of times, I noticed something. Even agricultural economists at big universities just assume all these subsidies and programs are baked into the farming life in perpetuity. Even if they'd ever-so-glancingly acknowledge the market distortion involved, it was taken as a given.
And the particulars of the programs would make my eyes glaze over. Acronyms and formulas out the wazoo.
Freedom is always elegantly simple in comparison to any alternative. It involves risks and responsibility that you don't have to deal with when the government is not coming between buyer and seller. But whenever it's tried, it makes for win-win outcomes between buyer and seller.