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Absurd Agriculture Policies Highlight Need for Reform
This week, the House of Representatives is debating its bill to reauthorize the country’s agriculture policies. We opposed the bill’s passage in the Senate and continue to urge lawmakers to vote no on the House’s similarly flawed version.
The farm bill spends too much while keeping taxpayers on the hook for expensive and intrusive agriculture policy. While extending – and expanding, in some cases – depression-era systems of quotas, price controls and subsidies, the bill goes so far as to enact new regulations that will continue to raise prices for consumers and force businesses to shoulder the costs of overregulation. We picked out some of the worst examples to highlight the absurdity of federal agriculture policy:
Saccharine Subsidies: Sugar producers sell the current system of quotas and tariffs to taxpayers as a sweet deal, while ignoring the billions in costs consumers must shoulder for exorbitant sugar prices. The restrictions placed on imported sugar, combined with price guarantees for domestic producers are estimated to cost the economy thousands of jobs. Bipartisan reforms have been offered for years to roll back the government’s presence in the sugar industry, but to no avail.
Controlling Cotton: Federal cotton programs are particularly absurd. Rather than end the generous subsidies provided for domestic producers, the United States pays Brazil millions each year to ignore this preferential treatment that runs contrary to international trade rules. The taxpayer handout to both domestic and foreign cotton growers is a particularly acute example of government intervention at its worst.
Milking taxpayers: Another example of the one-two punch delivered to taxpayers in the Farm Bill, a new dairy program would attempt to manage both the supply and demand for milk, inflating prices for consumers and businesses.
Good Fat, Bad Policy: The health benefits of olive oil have been cited by octogenarians as part of a long and fruitful life. However, one of the newest regulations in the House Farm Bill would extend an import standard to olive oil that traditionally has only been applied to products the U.S. produces domestically in large quantities. Since we import almost 100 percent of the olive oil consumed in the country, the cost of such a capricious regulation would amount to tens of millions each year. An amendment offered by Rep. Chris Gibson would axe this onerous standard from the bill.