Daren Bakst

Daren Bakst

By a vote of 251-166, the House of Representatives today passed a $956 billion bill to fund food stamps and subsidize farmers.

This bill is substantially worse than earlier versions of the legislation, one of which had followed Heritage Foundation suggestions to split the welfare and agriculture elements.

Heritage agriculture expert Daren Bakst explains how this handout-laden monstrosity came about in The Federalist:

In negotiating a new farm bill, the House and Senate have decided the best approach to work out their differences is by selecting the worst options from each of their bills and add them together into one terrible bill…

The name “farm” bill is itself a misnomer.  It’s really a “food stamp” bill since about 80 percent of its spending is dedicated to the food stamp program.  Politicians are forthright about why these unrelated programs are packaged together: politics.  Ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Committee Thad Cochran (R–MS) explained farm bill politics well when he argued that the farm bill includes food stamps “purely from a political perspective” since “it helps get the farm bill passed.”  Food stamps and farm programs are combined together so that the farm bill gets the support of the two distinct constituencies.  Urban members who support food stamps vote for the farm bill to protect their interests, and the rural members vote for their agriculture programs.

Do you think lawmakers were right to approve this legislation?

Comments (5)

John Kotchian - January 29, 2014

The bill hurts the American people. It harms the poor by making them more dependent and less self reliant and gives them no incentive to become self reliant. It enriches agri-businesses that don’t need help, and it puts a huge debt burden upon us and our children.

Suzy Foss - February 1, 2014

We must get control over Congress and rip this bill apart piece by piece in the future. I am a county commissioner in rural Montana. My county has 73% Federally controlled land, we get between .13 and .40 on the dollar to offset the loss of property taxes. Why this promise, that was made to the 49 states with federally held public lands with the implementation of the 1976 Federal Land Policy Management Act, is now considered pork and a political tool is beyond me. Yet it was attached to the farm bill which put tremendous pressure on good conservatives to vote yes or catch heck from counties they represent. Bad business as usual by the Feds!

Kevin G. - July 25, 2014

This farm bill is proof that neither side in congress
cares about the taxpayer.

Bill Mottinger - April 1, 2016

Instead of combining two losing programs to gain support politically, they should be kept separate, quickly researched for real needs, and dealt with individually.
Some qualifications should be met by those benefiting and cutbacks made to reduce, not increase federal spending.

Michael Baker - April 1, 2016

Farm Bill? Give me a break. It would be OK if it were really about helping Farms. I buy groceries and gas and these folks getting these food stamp subsidies are living better than I am. I see them pull up to the gas pump driving expensive autos…they fill up when I can only buy a half tank when gas was $3.00 + / gallon. I’ve seen the abuse at the food store. I’m retired and taxed to death, that is not to mention that seniors today are badly mistreated on the amount of and quantity of SS payment increases. We don’t get COL increases but Congress gets a raise every year. This is not about Farms…for God’s sake. Our politicians have fallen so far into the hole of serving themselves they have forgotten how to serve the people who put them in office. This thing needs to be ripped to shreds and done correctly. All of this free stuff takes away any desire to have to go earn a wage. Congress….get real or get fired.

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