The U.S. Senate voted 66 to 27 today for the farm bill, legislation that costs nearly $1 trillion and is composed mostly of food stamps. Heritage has highlighted the flaws of the “farm” bill, noting the “tangle of agriculture subsidies, welfare payments, and environmental patronage.”
Today’s vote in the Senate divided Republicans with 25 opposed and 18 in favor, casting doubt on its future in the House of Representatives.
Conservative Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) was among the critics:
Agriculture forms the backbone of the Texas economy and is an integral part of our proud heritage, as it is for the rest of the nation. Unfortunately, the current farm bill gives far less attention to the needs of farmers than it does to politicians and special interests. For an issue as critical to our nation’s safety and American livelihoods as ensuring a reliable food supply, I am disappointed that Washington’s cynical politics have again trumped any real reform.
Any meaningful support for farmers and ranchers in this trillion-dollar bill is unnecessarily held hostage to the unchecked growth of food stamp entitlements and numerous other programs unrelated to farming. This farm bill costs 60 percent more than the 2008 bill. Nearly 80 percent of it consists of a massive expansion in food stamps, trapping millions in long-term dependency. It fails to provide a true safety net for farmers in difficult years, fails to fully target assistance to those most in need, subsidizes massive agri-businesses, and fails to prioritize farm aid over duplicative programs, promoting unrelated programs from green energy to housing.
We should address the true needs of American farmers, but the bill considered by the Senate does considerably more harm than good. I hope our House colleagues will include needed reforms that the Senate omitted in its flawed consideration of this important issue.