Well, Almost! Would you believe that all (but one) of our Congressional Representatives voted the same on a recent Amendment to the the Farm, Nutrition, and Bioenergy Act of 2007? First, I couldn't believe that Republicans and Democrats would actually agree on something, and then I started to wonder why. Follow me below the fold for the details...
I've been following the new Farm Bill because it represent a HUGE expense to the taxpayers ($286 Billion between 2008 and 2012), because we own a small farm, and because I know a lot of small farmers get absolutely zilch from the farm subsidy program and that few farmers or ranchers can get federal support when they offer to dedicate some of their holdings to environmental improvments, wildlife habitat, etc.
Specifically I was following an Amendment offered by Rep. Kind of Wisconsin that purported to "reform the farmer safety net to work better for small farmers at lower cost, reallocate funding to nutrition, conservation, specialty crops and healthy foods, rural development, and programs that benefit socially disadvantaged farmers." It also would have limited subsidy payments to Farmers earning over $250K a year. I strongly suggest you read the short summary presented HERE
Subsidies are tied to crop production, so the largest 10 percent of subsidy recipients collect 70 percent of all subsidies. While some subsidized farmers collect more than $2 million a year, most subsidized farmers collect less than $200 a month.
(Environmental Defense Fund)
So...I wondered what would bind all these Congress-critters into an almost unanimous (except for Watt) vote against an Amendment that seemed good for small farmers and the taxpayer.
Tha answer, as you might guess, appears to be MONEY, the people in their districts getting that money, and likely the influence of the ones getting BIG money.
Go HERE to use a fascinating and easy to understand database that will allow you to see who gets what and how much in your Congressional District and or County. You'll likely be stunned!
Some of the commentary and data about the AGI in NC, and the numbers of children in poverty in places where individual farmers/businesses are collecting huge payments is mind boggling. There are also maps you can click on and get the names of every individual in the area receiving subsidy payments and how much.
See...our Congress Critters can work together...when the issue is self-preservation. They mostly still don't give a big phtttt about us.
The Congressional Budget Office report is HERE and while it's boring reading I picked up a point our Congress-people are surely going to tout...and the CBO pretty much proves it's crap. They're going to tell us there is added emphasis in the new farm bill to improve the safety of our food. THE CBO says the paltry $131 Million they've allocated for this over the 2008-2012 period is not even a raindrop in the storm.
I'm no expert on farm policy. It's confusing. We get a small subsidy (@ $800 in the past 3 years) on the wheat we grow/sharecrop.
What I'm not confused about is why we taxpayers keep getting screwed...and how some folks live very high on our money...and why things don't change.