Sacred Cows and Bipartisan B.S. In Farm Bill

July 16, 2012 14:23

Taxpayers continue to bear the heavy burden of subsidizing campaign contributors, the rich and corporations under the cover of a nostalgic vision of farming. “Farmers” who receive about 80 percent of government subsidies are multimillionaires whose incomes put them in Obama’s definition of the rich.




By Michael Whipple, Editor


Taxpayers continue to bear the heavy burden of subsidizing campaign contributors, the rich and corporations under the cover of a nostalgic vision of farming. “Farmers” who receive about 80 percent of government subsidies are multimillionaires whose incomes put them in Obama’s definition of the rich.


We’ve written before how hundreds of thousands of dollars and in some cases millions have ended up in the pockets of the congressmen who vote to continue these unnecessary farm subsidies.

Here are a few examples noted by the Environmental Working Group:

Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.)

Aderholt’s wife, Caroline, is part of the ownership of McDonald Farms, which received $3,059,878 in federal farm subsidies in 1995-2009.

Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-Tenn.)
Fincher is listed as directly receiving $114,519 from USDA. Fincher’s farm, Stephen & Lynn Fincher Farms, is also in the database for 1995-1999, receiving $3,254,324 in farm subsidies 1999-2009.  Fincher and his wife Lynn are each 50 percent partners in the farm. EWG’s estimate of farm subsidies paid to Fincher and his wife is $3,368,843 between 1995 and 2009.

Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.)
Hartzler is listed in the EWG Farm Subsidy Database but received no money. Her husband, Lowell Hartzler, is listed as a 98 percent owner of Hartzler Farms, which received $774,489 in 1995-2009.

Rep. Timothy Huelskamp (R-Kansas)

This farm is likely owned by his parents, Leroy and Estelle Huelskamp. H&H Farms received $1,169,499 in federal farm subsidies in 1995-2009.

Rep. Tom Latham (R-Iowa)

EWG’s estimate of farm subsidies paid to Latham, using the percentage share information provided to USDA, is $330,046 in 1995-2009.

Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-Ind.)
Stutzman is listed as directly receiving $179,370 in subsidies in 1997-2009. His financial disclosure forms for 2009 list Stutzman Farms as generating a salary of $48,985.

Click here to see more.

Nicolas Loris at The Heritage foundation recently wrote about the Biomassive Energy Subsidies in Farm Bill:

‘The farm bill [] has little to do with farming and a lot to do with handouts. Energy subsidies? The farm bill’s full of ‘em, particularly in the Title IX energy section, and they all need to go.

The legislation includes direct handouts and loan guarantees for advanced biofuels and bio-refineries, renewable chemicals, and bio-based product manufacturers. It also reauthorizes the Rural Energy for America Program, which “provides grants for energy audits and renewable energy development assistance. It also provides funds to agricultural producers and rural small businesses to purchase and install renewable energy systems and make energy efficiency improvements.” In other words, more wasteful green subsidies.

Also included in the bill are the Biomass Research and Development Initiative and the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP). BCAP is a handout to farmers and ranchers who produce biomass for heat, power, bio-based products, or biofuels.”


The bill’s total cost is particularly outrageous at a time when the government is $16 trillion in debt, the economy is in dire straits and spending cuts are nowhere on the horizon. Proposed spending increases 63% in the current Farm Bill over the previous 2008 bill.

Justification for the Farm Bill lies in claims that farmers need subsidies as a cover from the marketplace, should the price of crops fall. Vincent Smith at AEI points out in “New Farm Bill Likely to be a Budget and Trade Disaster,” :

“To meet these wants, Representatives Lucas and Peterson have invented a new farm bill program called Price Loss Coverage that is spelled out in the House Agricultural Committee’s draft Farm Bill, released last Friday… Effectively, Price Loss Coverage is a price-based income support program. When the market price for a commodity covered by the program falls below a new and, by historical standards, very high target price level, farmers will almost certainly get a payment for every acre they plant of that crop. The payment is driven by the difference between the target price and the market price…”

“They are enjoying record market prices and record profits, have almost no debt (the average debt to asset ratio in farming is less than nine percent), and are ideally placed to manage price and production risks by themselves. Moreover, the farm households who receive about 80 percent of the subsidies are typically multimillionaires with annual taxable incomes in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.”


In an article about government subsidies for the rich, Sen. Tom Coburn points out that such subsidies include $316 million in farm subsidies.

By Michael Beckel writing at exposed the cozy criminal relationship between senators and the ethanol industry:

“This bipartisan group of 15 senators signed a letter in late November demanding an extension of U.S. ethanol subsidies, and they have received notable campaign contributions during the past six years from pro-ethanol companies and interest groups.
These senators each collected, on average, $5,000 from bioengineering and agricultural chemical company Monsanto, $4,100 from farming giant Archer Daniels Midland, $1,600 from the National Corn Growers Association, $1,200 from ethanol producer POET LLC and $200 a piece from Growth Energy and the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association. (You may download a spreadsheet showing the Center’s calculations of these totals and the itemized totals for all senators signing either letter here: EthanolMoney2010.xls)

The leading Republican behind the letter was Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who argued in the pro-ethanol missive that “allowing the provisions to expire or remain expired would threaten jobs, harm the environment, weaken our renewable fuel industries and increase our dependence on foreign oil.”

Since January 2005, Grassley’s political committees have received about $36,000 from the PACs of the Monsanto, POET LLC, Archer Daniels Midland, the National Corn Growers Association, Growth Energy and the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, according to research by the Center for Responsive Politics. Because senators run for re-election every six years, using data for six-year periods gives a more complete — and more accurate — picture of what interests are bankrolling a senator.
Grassley’s office told OpenSecrets Blog that campaign contributions from ethanol supporters do not influence the senator’s thinking on the issue.”

What a crock! Ethanol subsides do absolutely nothing for the environment and drive up prices for food and fuel at taxpayers expense. It seems everyone has their sacred cow and will shovel a little B.S. to fund it.

In fact biofuels are worse for the environment than fossil fuels according to a study done by nine environmental groups. Pete Harrison at Reuters via YAHOO! wrote the story but it has been scrubbed from Yahoo:

Nine environmental groups reached the conclusion after analysing official data on the European Union’s goal of getting 10 percent of transport fuel from renewable sources by 2020.

“As a result, the extra biofuels that Europe will use over the next decade will generate between 81 and 167 percent more carbon dioxide than fossil fuels, says the report.”

“The indirect effects of the EU’s biofuel strategy will generate an extra 27 to 56 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year, says the report. In the worst case, that would be the equivalent of putting another 26 million cars on Europe’s roads, it added.”

[original link to story:]


IBD Editorials pointed out the myth of ethanol and the environment in “Ear (Of Corn) Marks”:

“Fact is, ethanol does not save either the environment or gasoline. The expanded planting of corn for its manufacture has crowded out other crops and contributed to a continuing spike in food prices worldwide. This has helped lead to food shortages and is even linked to tortilla riots in Mexico.

“Producing ethanol for use in motor fuels increases the demand for corn, which ultimately raises the prices that consumers pay for a wide variety of foods at the grocery store, ranging from corn-syrup sweeteners in soft drinks to meat, dairy and poultry products,” says the Congressional Budget Office.

Does ethanol use fight climate change? A report by the Paris-based International Council for Science says clearing land for the production of biofuels has aggravated rather than ameliorated global warming. It releases nitrous oxide as well as CO2. Nitrous oxide is said to trap heat at a rate 300 times greater than an equal amount of CO2.

Adding …

Even some environmentalists have gotten wise to the ethanol scam. The Environmental Working Group and five other groups not long ago came out against a further bailout. Subsidies “for corn-based ethanol,” they said, “have produced unintended, yet potentially catastrophic environmental consequences, with little or no return to taxpayers in energy security (or) protection from global warming.”


Open Secrets goes on to name other senators with their hands in the ethanol cookie jar:

Sens. Kit Bond (R-Mo.), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), who all signed onto Grassley’s letter, have each received at least $20,000 to their campaign committees and leadership PACs from these same ethanol-supporting political action committees since January 2005, according to the Center’s research.
And Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), who likewise signed the pro-ethanol letter, each received between $10,000 and $15,000 from these interests as well.
Among all pro-ethanol letter-signers, only Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) collected no money from any of these six companies and trade groups. (Brownback is retiring from the Senate in January, having been elected governor of Kansas.)


Vincent Smith at AEI explains how actual cost of the Farm Bill will be much greater than claimed:

“For just these five commodities – corn, wheat, soybeans, peanuts, and rice, taxpayer costs would be about $16.5 billion a year, a far cry from the CBO estimate of about $3 billion a year, which assumes that crop prices will continue to be at or close to record high levels. Other substantial costs would be incurred in providing subsidies to barley, lentils, oats, peas, grain, sorghum, and oil seed crops such as canola and sunflowers. Moreover, annual subsidy payments of this size, coupled with an additional $7 to $10 billion in crop insurance subsidies, would clearly violate the United States’ WTO commitments and create enormous trade relations problems.”

It gets worse.

The Farm Bill is a food stamp manifesto, with the overwhelming bulk of its funds going towards expansion of a program being pushed by the administration on the radio and even in Spanish soap operas.

The 2008 food stamp program cost was $37.6 billion which has grown to $75.7 billion in 2011 under Obama. Yes he is the food stamp president.

He is attempting to convince all of us that everything is just fine and that the economy is heading in a positive direction.  Well, the truth is that everything is not fine and things are about to get a whole lot worse.

The Farm Bill allows a kumbaya moment of glory for legislators to bask in their great benevolence as surrogate daddies to the welfare state. Food stamps make the Farm Bill medicine of corporate subsidies palatable to the urban socialists. It’s a win-win for the power perpetuating politicians and a lose-lose for tax weary taxpayers.

Daniel Horowitz writing at Red State explains the connection:

“One of the reasons they have been so successful in the past is because the farm bill inconceivably contains two extraneous portions; agriculture and food stamps – representative of both rural and urban special interests. Bundling the two disparate interests into one bill has allowed the forces of big government to garner majority support for unlimited urban welfare and infinite government intervention in agriculture.”


The first step to limiting government intervention in agriculture is to break the bond between farming and food stamps. Congressman Todd Akin (R-MO) is circulating a letter to House leadership asking them to split the Farm Bill into two bills before consideration in the House, one for farm programs, one for food stamps. Senator Ron Johnson already tried a similar effort in the Senate (in the form of a “motion to recommit” to the Senate farm bill), and it garnered the support of most Republicans.”


Conservatives deserve to be frustrated when this type perpetual money machine is painted as goodness and light. It is like arguing over the bar bill on the Titanic. Disaster looms but the band plays on.


Follow Michael Whipple on Twitter

Follow usACTIONnews on Twitter or on Facebook


Help Make A Difference By Sharing These Articles On Facebook, Twitter And Elsewhere:

Interested In Further Reading? Click Here