House and Senate committees continue to work toward a resolution on a farm bill conference report. There is talk the bill may be added to the end-of-year Omnibus package in order to ensure majority support from Republican representatives who do not want their last act of the GOP-controlled House to be a pre-Christmas government shutdown. (Apparently, fighting for principle is a horrible way to go out.)
One reason the bill may have to be attached to a larger “must-pass” spending bill is that the final bill may abandon the SNAP (food stamps) reforms included in the House bill -- based on the idea that able-bodied single people should work or receive job training to facilitate moving them off of welfare. In exchange for abandoning SNAP reforms, House Agriculture Chairman Mike Conaway (TX—11) would get his sought-after expansion of “family members” who can qualify for subsidies if they have a relative who dies and if they ever “actively managed”farm land -- whether or not they ever set foot on the farm. So you could give your cousin-twice-removed some business advice and all of sudden qualify for farm subsidies! The deal would also allow “means testing” for farm partnerships and joint ventures, causing more money to be funneled to wealthy farmers.
So, the end-of -the-year spending bill may include a farm bill that drops food stamp reforms in order to shovel more money to millionaire farmers. It almost makes me look forward to Speaker Pelosi.
Here is a letter Campaign for Liberty signed against this deal:
November 16, 2018
The undersigned organizations are leaders in the conservative and free-market community, representing millions of members, supporters, and activists. We have come together to urge all House members and Senators to oppose any farm bill conference agreement that includes provisions to egregiously expand taxpayer subsidies.
Such provisions would include:
1) Expanding the definition of a farm “family member” to include cousins, nephews, and nieces. This redefinition would expand a loophole that allows subsidies to go to individuals “actively managing” farm operations without any requirement they actually step foot on the farm.
2) Eliminating the use of means testing for certain types of farms, such as farm partnerships and joint ventures, creating a loophole that would allow even billionaires to receive farm subsidies.
3) Increasing the farm subsidies agricultural producers can receive under existing law by making it possible for the “reference prices” in the Price Loss Coverage and Agriculture Risk Coverage programs to go even higher than their current levels. This means payments could be triggered more frequently and the amount of those payments could be even greater.
For many years, Congress has tried to close some of the worst loopholes and excesses in the farm subsidy system. However, the House farm bill inexplicably disregards these important efforts. Quite simply, some of the House subsidy provisions reflect a complete disregard for taxpayers, fiscal responsibility, and sound policy and are unacceptable.
For more information, please contact Joshua Sewell (202.546.8500 x116, or firstname.lastname@example.org).
Taxpayers for Common Sense
Americans for Prosperity
Campaign for Liberty
Club for Growth
Coalition to Reduce Spending
Council for Citizens Against Government Waste
Independent Women’s Forum
National Taxpayers Union
Taxpayer Protection Alliance
Writing for The Hill , Scott Faber, Vice-President of the Environmental Working Group, describes how the federal payments to farmers hurt by President Trump’s tariffs are going to non-farmers and how the farm bill increases the number of non-farmers who will receive aid.