Milking the Poor to Subsidize Rich Agribusiness
Should the poor and consumers have to pay more for milk just to line the pockets of wealthy farmers who don’t need the help? Of course they shouldn’t.
Vince Smith, the agricultural policy expert at the American Enterprise Institute and a professor at the University of Montana and Brad Wassink, a domestic policy researcher at the American Enterprise Institute, explain:
After a year and a half of haggling over the new farm bill, dairy policy appears to be the final sticking point. It’s a microcosm of the broader farm subsidy discussion that pits the welfare of consumers, taxpayers, and the poor against the interests of agribusiness and farm lobbies.
At issue is a dairy scheme advocated by Rep. Peterson (D-Minn.) and Sen. Leahy (D-Vt.). The proposal illustrates all that is wrong with farm bill politics and policy: to guarantee the earnings of dairies (with outsized benefits to small-scale and increasingly inefficient farms in Minnesota and Vermont), Peterson’s program would raise the price of milk and dairy products for everyone.
Only in the log-rolling world of Washington farm bill politics would such a program make sense. For the poor, the unemployed, taxpayers and consumers, it does not.