The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Congress:
Money for Pals, but Nothing for the Hungry

Feb 17, 2014

Congress has passed a new farm bill, worth about 100 billion dollars a year for their special friends – like agribusiness, and owners or investors in agricultural lands.

President Obama signed the bill, pretending it would help with income inequality and help reduce the federal deficit.

In this bill, a commodity program for farmers can provide up to $125,000 to “individual farmers” per year from taxpayers – more than twice the median yearly income of all U.S. families.

The agriculture corporations get special deals in the bill, for the “farmers” – who are really big business men – in the rice, peanut and sugar industries. The catfish industry gets its own special deal for being regulated – no longer by the FDA, which lacks enough inspectors in any case, but by a new division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

This bill also provides 18 insurance companies an average of 80 million dollars a year for selling federally-subsidized insurance to farmers as protection against crop losses. The farmers pay a third of the cost of the insurance, while the taxpayers pay two-thirds of the cost.

The sugar industry has done very well by its lobbying of politicians, especially in Florida and Michigan. They are so successful that U.S. consumers pay twice the cost for sugar compared to the rest of the world – 26 cents per pound versus 13 cents per pound. And the sugar industry hardly needs the price support, since its friends in Congress have been helping them for decades with favorable legislation. Over the past 15 years, the industry has closed dozens of refineries, laid off half its workforce, exploited its workers enough to double how much sugar each worker produces, and made billions in profits.

On the other hand, in this bill, $90 per month is being cut from the food stamp benefit of about 850,000 of the poorest families in the country. This is part of the great “savings” in the bill, which comes to less than two billion dollars a year.

The editors of the Washington Post – not exactly a radical bunch – call this farm bill “corporate welfare.” Yes, Congress is doing its REAL job of catering to its real constituents: Those who are paying millions to lobby Congress are getting an excellent return on their investment!