Last week, farming and some conservation groups announced that they had come to a deal to link eligibility for crop insurance premium subsidies to compliance with conservation measures. In return, in one of the great sell-outs in modern times, the conservation groups agreed not to push for payment limits or means testing on farm subsidies.
The American Sugar Alliance, the main lobby group for American sugar growers, released a report last week alleging that the subsidies given to Brazilian sugar growers are depressing the world price of sugar perhaps by 25 to 30 percent. But instead of thanking the Brazilian taxpayers for their gift of cheap sugar, apparently the ASA are suggesting that U.S. trade negotiators “add it to their agenda”, implying that they should challenge the subsidies using the World Trade Organization’s dispute settlement mechanism.
According to The Hill, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) told Rush Limbaugh that the Republican Party is “primarily” to blame for the growth in government dependency:
As if U.S. agriculture isn’t subsidised enough already. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) visited a hops yard yesterday to raise the profile of, and inevitably seek federal support for, what he hopes will be New York’s first commercial hops yard. In the second subtitle of his press release, Senator Schumer sings the praises of NY’s “booming craft beer industry” and yet simultaneously makes the somewhat contradictory claim that the industry suffers from a lack of capital:
That’s the title of a quarter-page advertisement in the Washington Post on Wednesday.
When it comes to inside-the-Beltway economics, black is white, up is down, and lobbyists for some of the most government-coddled farmers in America are calling other people greedy.
For people familiar with the government’s Byzantine sugar program, the text from the American Sugar Alliance (ASA) ad is frankly hilarious:
In a move that should surprise precisely no-one, the American Farm Bureau Federation, the nation’s largest lobby group for agriculture, this week endorsed an “everything for everyone, all the time” approach to farm policy. Meeting at the AFBF’s annual conference, the delegates endorsed an approach similar to the House Agriculture Committee-passed bill. The House bill supporters made a big show of cutting direct payments to farmers, a program that runs at an annual cost of $5 billion, and goes to those who own farmland or former farmland, regardless of whether they still farm.
The NY Times reports on how well peanut growing has gone this year:
The American Soybean Association (ASA) recently asked each of the presidential candidates to respond to a series of questions about agricultural policy issues. The questions covered farm bill and crop insurance, estate tax, biodiesel, biotechnology, trade, research, regulations, and transportation and infrastructure. The candidates’ responses (full text here) were not exactly models of courageous and principled policymaking.