As House Weighs GOP Farm Bill, Subsidy Spending Keeps Soaring

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Federal farm subsidies are now likely to cost almost $12.6 billion more than originally anticipated when lawmakers passed the 2014 Farm Bill. That means that taxpayers like you and me will be on the hook for even more money than the already-expensive expectation.

The Congressional Budget Office recently released its estimate of the cost of the 2014 Farm Bill. It forecast that spending on farm subsidy programs that make up Title I of the bill will cost over $36.1 billion between 2014 and 2018. That is almost $12.6 billion more than the original estimate of $23.6 billion.

Some of that extra spending is offset by savings in the federal crop insurance program. But overall, the farm subsidy and crop insurance programs are expected to cost almost $2.2 billion more than what was originally planned.

The House Agriculture Committee’s proposal for the 2018 Farm Bill would only increase the cost of subsidies going forward. The bill establishes numerous loopholes that would allow more people to receive farm subsidies, such as expanding the types of family members who can collect subsidies to include cousins, nieces and nephews. The bill would also make it much easier for millionaire and billionaire farmers to get subsidies by exempting “pass through entities” from the current $900,000 adjusted gross income limit and the $125,000 payment limit. 

Billions of dollars already go to farmers who have considerably higher median household incomes than most Americans. The House bill would send even more subsidies to even wealthier farmers, instead of helping the farmers who actually need support.

As the House of Representatives prepares to vote on the farm bill as early as the second week of May, members of Congress would be wise to carefully examine the CBO’s recent analysis of farm spending, lest we repeat the mistakes of the past.


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