Heritage Foundation research fellow Diane Katz, pictured here at an OCPA event last month in Oklahoma City, has released a new report entitled “Farm Bill 2012: Agriculture Policy Ripe for Reform.”
Katz says “major reforms are sorely needed to end decades of market distortions and taxpayer subsidies to wealthy farmers, and to alleviate the artificially inflated food prices that burden family budgets. Farm subsidies, which add tens of billions of dollars to the federal budget, undermine trade, and violate fundamental free-market principles, should be eliminated.”
Some other key points in the report:
- Farm subsidies constitute the nation’s largest corporate welfare program. They come in various forms, but the underlying purpose is largely the same: to shift the costs of agricultural risk to taxpayers, either by augmenting farmers’ income or artificially inflating food prices.
- Farm subsidies, commodity quotas, and tariffs largely enrich upper-income producers of grains, oilseeds, cotton, milk, and sugar.
- There are a host of nongovernmental methods with which farmers can manage risk, including crop diversification, credit reserves, and private insurance.
- Meaningful reform requires lawmakers to focus solely on agriculture. All extraneous programs that clutter the farm bill—welfare, energy, broadband deployment—ought to be jettisoned to relevant congressional committees.
- Congress should begin the process of fully eliminating farm subsidies by restricting eligibility and imposing income limits and subsidy caps.