The House yesterday passed a final version of a new five-year farm bill by a vote of 318 to 106, a margin large enough to override President Bush’s promised veto of the nearly $300 billion measure.
Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer released a statement saying the vote “sends the wrong message to the rest of the country who are not experiencing the boom of the agriculture sector,” and, “This bill is loaded with taxpayer funded pet projects at a time when Americans are struggling to buy groceries and afford gas to get to work.”
Bush has charged that the bill allows payments to wealthy individuals. He has also criticized restrictions on the use of food aid dollars in the midst of food shortages abroad, and he said that protectionist provisions, including “an egregious new sugar subsidy program,” could worsen trade relations.
The United Nations and the World Trade Organization have increasingly gotten annoyed at the massive subsidies provided by the United States Government (The WaPo, different link).
Vote round-up provided by James Atticus Bowden at his blog:
Democrats — Boucher, Y; Moran, Y; Scott, Y.
Republicans — Drake, Y; Forbes, Y; Goodlatte, Y; Wittman, Y;
Fiscal Conservative Republicans – Goode, N;Cantor, N; Davis, Tom, N; Wolf, N.
Wolf, Goode and Cantor have farmers in their districts, yet they voted “No”. Good job, guys.
Continues to subsidize millionaires. Currently, all full-time farmers may be eligible for farm subsidies regardless of income (part-time farmers must earn less than $2.5 million annually). President Bush reasonably proposed limiting farm subsidies to those who earn less than $200,000 a year.
Rather than follow that commonsense approach, the conference agreement reportedly rejects all farmer income tests for the countercyclical and marketing loan subsidy programs and includes only a weak net farm income cap for direct payments ($750,000 for single farmers and $1.5 million for married farmers after all business deductions). Direct payments would also be restricted to singles with non-farm incomes under $500,000 ($1 million for married couples).
That is not reform. Farmers with incomes in the millions of dollars would still be eligible for permanent subsidies. Farm subsidies would remain America’s largest corporate welfare program: Most subsidies would continue to go to large agribusinesses. President Bush is right to insist that farmers earning more than $200,000 per year no longer be eligible for subsidies.