Pigs at the Trough: Congress Packs Plenty of Pork Into the Farm Bill

Written By Outsider Club

Posted February 14, 2014

There was a time when farmers formed the backbone of America – a rugged symbol of individualism and self-reliance.

Well, while a few true-blue farmers still exist, most have been displaced by big agribusiness. As a result, the Farm Bill that was originally intended to protect an American legacy has grown into a trillion-dollar handout for corporations and politicians.

Like in George Orwell’s classic novel Animal Farm, the pigs are running the show. And they’ve packed plenty of pork into the $956 billion Farm Bill.

Courtesy of the federal government comes:

  • A $3 million program to boost live Christmas tree sales.
  • A $15 million “wool trust fund” for domestic textile and apparel companies.
  • A $17 million per-year catfish-oversight program. (Even though the Food and Drug Administration has a nearly identical program that costs $7 million a year.)
  • Some $2 million for “the production and marketing of sheep and sheep products.”
  • Another $25 million per year for a federal Citrus Research and Extension Initiative.
  • And $100 million towards research into getting Americans to buy more maple syrup.

And that’s just to name a few. This bill is loaded with subsidies, incentives, and straight-up corporate welfare for an industry that, quite frankly, doesn’t need it.

The farm sector continues to be one of the strongest sectors of the U.S. economy. Net farm income was up more than 13% in 2013. At $128.2 billion it’s at its highest level since 1973. And the value of both crop and livestock production is at an all-time high.

The average farm household had an income of $104,525 last year.

Lawmakers are calling this a $23 billion cut. But that’s only true in the sense that lawmakers spent slightly less than they’d anticipated. In truth, this legislation represents a $258 billion increase over the 10-year cost of the last farm bill in 2008. So it’s actually 37% jump in real spending.

The bill does take positive step in eliminating direct payments to farmers regardless of whether they grow crops. That will save about $5 billion, but some of the money will go to increase subsidies for farmers’ crop insurance, another major pork handout under which taxpayers pay 62% of premiums plus insurers’ administrative costs.

Subsidies will increase for rice and cotton farmers, as well. And corn, wheat, and soybean farmers continue to be major beneficiaries.