Pork Irks Waste Watchdogs

Buried within the $1 trillion House farm bill are a number of expensive giveaways to specialized parts of the farm sector, giveaways that have upset taxpayer advocacy groups and deficit hawks in the House.
Ever since the 2008 financial crash, the farm bill has been forced to walk a legislative tightrope. With the economy still suffering from the long-term consequences of the Great Recession, farm advocates have been forced to justify farm subsidies that have long been a vital part of farm legislation.
Fiscal conservatives have pounced on the farm bill as a wasteful giveaway to local producers. While the bill reduces subsidies to corn farmers by eliminating direct payments, it maintains payments to small producers. Price guarantees for the producers of sushi rice, marketing programs for Christmas trees, and subsidies to catfish farmers are all protected in the House bill.
Despite complaints from some budget hawks, these local subsidies can be very important to regional producers. Catfish production, for example, may be a small part of the overall US economy, but it is an important part of the Mississippi Delta and the Gulf Coast economies. Many regional farmers have complained that congressional focus on Corn Belt states like Iowa and Ohio has eclipsed some of the serious financial problems that smaller farmers face.
Dissatisfaction with the specifics of the farm bill may be academic, however, given the unlikeliness of the bill passing the Senate and being signed into law by President Obama.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer