April 23, 2014

House Farm Bill Falls Short on Fiscal Reform

  • The federal budget is an expression of our country's values. Where we choose to spend and at what levels, how and who we tax, and the borrowing we...

The House passed a farm bill last week after its first attempt failed at the end of June. To get more Republican votes, all funding for the food stamp program was removed from the legislation -- funding which made up 80 percent of the original bill’s spending.

Yet this removal did not pave the way for enhanced reforms of the remaining agriculture spending or a more fiscally responsible bill. In fact, relative to the agriculture spending in the Senate’s bill -- which did manage to provide for food assistance to the poor -- the latest House bill spends about $1 billion more on subsidies.

In addition, the House bill removes sunset provisions from many of the crop support programs. This makes it less likely that lawmakers in the future will give waste and program inefficiencies the scrutiny they deserve.

The folly of the latest chapter in farm bill history ought to spur a re-thinking of the entire endeavor. Lawmakers should make fundamental reforms in the nation’s farm support programs while renewing the food stamp program without disruption and avoiding drastic cuts for those in need.