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  • Commentary posted March 9, 2015 by Daren Bakst Ag policy needs less government intervention

    Agricultural policy doesn’t get the attention that it deserves. But policymakers and potential presidential candidates have the chance to change that at the Iowa Ag Summit in Des Moines. One reason agriculture gets overlooked is that the farm bill is really a food stamp bill. About 80 percent of the spending is for food stamps. Legislators push through this legislation…

  • Commentary posted March 3, 2015 by Daren Bakst Protecting Taxpayers from the Farm Bill's New Blank Check

    Last year, Congress created two major programs for farmers that, not surprisingly, will shatter Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) cost projections. Taxpayers’ liability for these programs is open-ended because a widely-supported limit on costs to protect taxpayers didn’t make it in the final farm bill. Congress should put an end to this liability immediately. The 2014…

  • Issue Brief posted February 10, 2015 by Daren Bakst Capping the Costs of the Two Major New Commodity Programs

    The 2014 farm bill eliminated the infamous direct payments program that gave farmers subsidies regardless of need. Instead of stopping there and making real progress, Congress created two new commodity programs, Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC), which will likely cost as much as and probably far more than the direct payments program. The farm…

  • Issue Brief posted November 18, 2014 by Daren Bakst, Rachael Slobodien The EPA and the Corps’s CWA Interpretive Rule: A Regulatory End Run

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers released an interpretive rule[1] narrowing an important Clean Water Act (CWA) exemption for agricultural activities. It was released at the same time they released their proposed “waters of the U.S.” rule that would greatly expand the waters the federal government can regulate under the CWA. By…

  • Issue Brief posted October 1, 2014 by Daren Bakst Another EPA and Army Corps Power Grab: Limiting Exemptions for Agriculture Under the CWA

    A‌gricultural activities will likely be far more costly ‌and difficult, at least if the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) get their way. In addition to their controversial “waters of the U.S.” proposed rule that would expand the waters that the federal government can regulate under the Clean Water Act (CWA), the EPA and Corps…

  • Commentary posted September 16, 2014 by Daren Bakst Parents, not bureaucrats, should decide what kids eat

    The primary focus of the federal school meal programs should be meeting students’ needs. But for that to happen, there must be recognition that parents — not the first lady or Congress — know what’s best for their children. Unfortunately, the school meal standards that started to go into effect two years ago under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 ignore parents…

  • Issue Brief posted August 19, 2014 by Daren Bakst Reining in the EPA Through the Power of the Purse

    While significant criticism is rightfully directed to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on issues such as greenhouse gas (GHG) regulation, Congress itself is to blame for not reasserting its lawmaking power over an agency that is supposed to be implementing the will of Congress, not the will of the agency. Through the appropriations process, Congress can rein in…

  • Issue Brief posted July 10, 2014 by Daren Bakst FDA’s Artificial Trans Fat “Ban”: A Dangerous Step to Control Personal Dietary Choices

    In November 2013, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published its tentative determination[1] to revoke the Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) status for partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs), which are the primary dietary source of artificial trans fat. As explained in a recent FDA update, “If FDA determines that PHOs are not GRAS, it could, in effect, mean the end of…

  • Commentary posted June 30, 2014 by Daren Bakst The First Parent Of The United States

    Michelle Obama thinks she knows what your children should eat. She’s adamant about promoting her nutrition policies for kids, even the new and disastrous school meal standards implementing the “Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act.” In a recent MSN interview, Michelle Obama revealed her own struggles with getting her kids to eat properly before she came to the White House. This…

  • Backgrounder posted May 30, 2014 by Daren Bakst Addressing Waste, Abuse, and Extremism in USDA Programs

    The federal debt is now more than $17 trillion. Congress needs to significantly cut spending across the board, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is no exception. Spending decisions are about more than just numbers; they reflect policy preferences. Congress should assert its lawmaking and spending powers to control expenditures and to formulate sound policy.…

  • Issue Brief posted May 5, 2014 by Daren Bakst 10 Guiding Principles for Agriculture Policy: A Free-Market Vision

    Agriculture has changed dramatically over the past 80 years, yet farm and commodity programs are Depression-era relics that are grounded in central-planning philosophies. Even some policymakers who claim to be strong proponents of free markets and limited government tend to forget these core beliefs when it comes to these programs. Agriculture policy is not just limited…

  • Issue Brief posted April 7, 2014 by Daren Bakst, Rachel Sheffield The “Heat and Eat” Food Stamp Loophole and the Outdated Cost Projections for Farm Programs

    In February, Congress passed a new farm bill that lacked meaningful and necessary reform. Making matters worse, Congress made critical mistakes that will have a major impact on both food stamps and farm programs. The most significant attempt at food stamp reform was to close the “heat and eat” loophole, which allows states to artificially boost the amount of food stamps…

  • Issue Brief posted February 28, 2014 by Daren Bakst Is the FDA Getting Out of Control?

    Acting on its own volition, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is using the regulatory process to gain unprecedented control of food policy and remove dietary choices from Americans. Similar to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the FDA is pushing extreme policies to regulate in areas that have never been federally regulated. Recent examples highlight this…

  • Commentary posted January 30, 2014 by Daren Bakst The Farm Bill Would Make a Soviet Central Planner Blush

    Every five years, Congress takes a holiday from the principles that made this country great and turn to central planning policies that were in vogue in 1933. This nightmare holiday is the farm bill. Right on cue, the current House passed a nearly $1 trillion farm bill Wednesday that puts faith in Washington, DC and disrespects the farmers and ranchers who actually make…

  • Issue Brief posted January 27, 2014 by Nicolas Loris, Daren Bakst West Virginia Chemical Spill: Learn Lessons and Let States Lead

    On January 9, a leak in an above-ground storage facility spilled chemicals into the Elk River near Charleston, West Virginia, contaminating potable water affecting nine counties. But environmental pressure groups and big-government proponents are using the spill to serve their own agendas. While the incident warrants investigation and thoughtful examination of the…