The Washington Times recently used the Freedom of Information Act to obtain letters sent to the USDA by numerous Republican lawmakers seeking stimulus money for their constituents. All of these Republicans had publicly criticized the stimulus and voted against it.
A couple of weeks ago I discussed a New York Times report on soaring food stamp use. Yesterday, the New York Times reported that cash welfare use in New York under the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program started to rise more recently. The Times calls this “something of a riddle” given that food stamp usage has been increasing throughout the recession.
Since 1908, the U.S. Forest Service has paid 25 percent of its gross receipts to the states for spending on roads and schools in the counties where national forests are located. In the Pacific Northwest, receipts started to decline in the late 1980s due to lower timber sales as a result of efforts to protect the spotted owl. In 1993, Congress responded with additional “spotted owl payments” to the affected states. A 2000 law spread these payments to all national forests, but the bulk continued to go to the Pacific Northwest.
Regulation and taxes are like two blades on a pair of scissors cutting holes in the family budget. With dairy products, a federal regulatory cartel acts to keep the prices of milk, cheese, and related products artificially high.
It looks like farm subsidy reform is unlikely for another few years. Senator Blanche Lincoln has been selected the new head of the Senate Agriculture Committee. Dow Jones notes: “Lincoln is a two-term moderate Democrat who described herself Wednesday as a ‘farmer’s daughter.’”
No, this headline and story is not brought to you by The Onion.
The latest proof that there’s nothing more permanent than a temporary federal program:
As drought forces families in the West to shorten their showers and let their lawns turn brown, two Depression-era government programs have been paying some of the nation’s biggest farms hundreds of millions of dollars to grow water-thirsty crops in what was once desert.
My sympathy for this farmer lies somewhere between that which I have for Bernie Madoff and Ted Stevens:
Jim Hansen, a 69-year-old cotton grower in California’s Central Valley, said his family business would crumble if the government took away low-cost water and the nearly $1.7 million in crop payments he received in 2007 and 2008.
For more on the insanity that is federal farm policy and why the USDA needs to be downsized and/or done away with, click here.