April 9, 2002 | News Releases on Federal Budget
WASHINGTON, Apr. 9, 2002-The average American household will pay nearly $4,400 in taxes and government-inflated food prices over the next decade to subsidize big agricultural business-not struggling farmers-under two farm-aid proposals being considered by Congress, a new Heritage Foundation paper says.
The two separate bills, the House's Farm Security Act and the Senate's Agriculture Conservation and Rural Enhancement Act, would increase farm subsidies to $191 billion in taxpayer money over the next 10 years, according to Brian Riedl, Heritage's Hermann fellow in federal budgetary affairs.
But instead of helping needy farmers, most of this aid goes to large farms that grow the most crops, Riedl says. The legislation would allocate two-thirds of all farm subsidies to just 10 percent of farms, most of which earn more than $250,000 annually. Meanwhile, Reidl notes, 60 percent of the nation's farmers, regardless of need, are left out of the farm subsidy system altogether.
Riedl says the bills, now being combined into a compromise bill before being sent to President Bush, are "a classic example of special-interest politics overriding taxpayer interest." Examples include:
But these amounts, he says, are dwarfed by the nearly $70 million donated by organizations representing farmers who raise the five largest subsidized crops: wheat, corn, rice, cotton and soybeans. Several of these organizations were represented on the Commission on 21st Century Production Agriculture, whose recommendations the House farm bill adopted almost word for word.
"Those who benefit from farm subsidies may be few in number, but they've sunk a lot of money into influencing the debate on farm policy because its outcome will result in massive gains or losses for them," Riedl says. "People should keep this in mind every time they go to the supermarket and every time they pay their taxes."