What Farmers Think of the Farm Bill

Blog Articles · Jul 16, 2013 · Agriculture

Surely there are some large, wealthy, corporate farms eagerly awaiting taxpayer funded subsidies embedded in the House and Senate farm bills - and the new, more expensive subsidies those bills would put in place. This is evident from the $1,381,134 already spent by the American Farm Bureau lobbying Congress in 2013.

But what do small farmers have to say?

A small farmer in Colorado says that the farm bill is a waste of taxpayer money:

Palisade farmer, Scott Washkowiak, is upset with the U.S. House of Representatives' decision to pass the Farm Bill after a new study by Colorado Public Interest Research Group said one aspect of the bill is no good.
The study said taxpayer dollars are being wasted on subsidized ingredients, such as high-fructose corn syrup.
Field Director for Colorado Public Interest Research Group or CoPIRG, Lisa Ritland said, "The food that Scott here is growing, they are fruits and vegetables. He just gave us apricots off his tree and these are examples of food that is not subsidized."

Sure, this is a parochial fight - which farmers grow what and where - but it serves to highlight the muddled mess that is the farm bill. More often than not, these bills serve as a way to grow government, not to "help small farmers" as some would claim. Most of the funding in the bill goes to big corporate farms that don't need an ounce of taxpayer help, but certainly won't reject a handout. Heritage notes:

Indeed, the vast majority of larger farms-about 75 percent-collect subsidies compared to only 24 percent of the (relatively) little guys.
The subsidies collected by large enterprises make it more difficult for small farms to stay in business. The flow of free dollars to big farms increases demand for farmland, which, in turn, raises the price of property. Smaller players and newcomers are priced out and left to compete in niche markets.

The House passed farm bill simply continues the status quo. When it passed Heritage noted:

Supporters of this farm-only farm bill wasted the golden opportunity that separation could have provided: the ability to promote policies that benefit taxpayers, farmers, and consumers in a fiscally responsible way. With the passage of this bill, the House has gone even further to the left than the Senate bill. It would spend more money than Obama on the largest farm program, crop insurance.

The Heritage Foundation all shared the story of a farmer who used to work for the United States Department of Agriculture and doesn't want the government's help. They explained:

[Britt] Dudak said closed-door meetings reward big lobbyists through regulations and subsidies that are "quite a challenge" for small farmers to navigate.

Congress needs a reality check, not the influence of big farm lobbyists and D.C. bureaucrats.