Commonly referred to as the farm bill, the legislation is used to shape America’s farm and food policy, funneling subsidies to certain agriculture interests and money toward welfare programs such as food stamps and mandating increased ethanol production.
The 1,009-page bill would cost taxpayers $969 billion over the next decade, which, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), represents a savings of $23.6 billion. Much of that savings is generated from the elimination of direct payment subsidies to farmers and the creation of a new shallow-loss crop insurance program. However, according to the American Enterprise Institute, the new insurance program will likely cost taxpayers far more: “If prices are calculated based on changes at the county-level taxpayers would be liable for $8.4 to $13.98 billion, depending on the rate of reimbursement.”
With the addition of shallow-loss, the bill’s market distortions continue unabated, with government programs combining to provide a 90% revenue guarantee. No other industry in America receives such a lucrative guarantee.
Additionally, the bill does almost nothing to curb the massive increase in spending on the food stamp program, or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Following President Obama’s stimulus, spending on food stamps doubled, going from $39 billion in 2008 to $80 billion in 2012. Now, government dependence is at an all time high, with 46.3 million Americans currently receiving food stamps.
For Americans – including farmers – to prosper, we need real, market-based reforms, not a continuation of Depression-era policies. Lawmakers should also consider SNAP separately, building on the House-passed reconciliation measure and outlining serious reforms to the program.
Heritage Action opposes S.3240 and will include it as a key vote on our scorecard.