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Moving farm reform ahead

November 9, 2011
Westfield Republican
Rarely does important legislation receive the overwhelming, nonpartisan support a bill approved last week in the U.S. Senate received. Eighty-four senators voted in favor of the measure, to stop paying agriculture subsidies to millionaires.

Well, it’s a start. Let’s hope both the Senate and House of Representatives plow ahead with farm policy reforms.

Current law allows farmers with more than a million dollars a year in adjusted gross income to receive agriculture subsidies. Few of the small family farms U.S. policy originally was intended to help are affected. Those who benefit include big corporations and absentee farm owners.

If the Senate bill is enacted, taxpayer-funded subsidies to farms that don’t really need them will be ended.

But various types of agriculture subsidies cost taxpayers enormous sums of money. The agriculture industry harvests as much as $30 billion a year in cash payments, and that does not count indirect aid such as subsidized insurance. In some cases, such as sugar policy, they make food products needlessly more expensive for U.S. consumers.

Powerful farm-state lawmakers have blocked attempts at reform for decades.

It is time for such politics to be rejected in Washington. The nation, with a debt of at least $14.5 trillion, simply cannot afford to dole out subsidies that do not have a logical purpose. And, again, policies that artificially increase food prices make no sense. We hope the coming year yields a bumper crop of reform measures.


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