Farm welfare: It’s not just for the poor. While working Americans slave away to pay their taxes, wealthy welfare farmers can rest assured the easy money will keep showing up in the mail for years to come.
Even though farmers are thriving as a result of world food prices soaring 43 percent in the past year, Congress has approved a $300 billion 2008 farm bill. It’s laden with pork, and full of benefits that will keep a few wealthy Americans comfortably idle for at least the next five years at a cost to working Americans.
By a majority so great the president’s promised veto will certainly be overridden, Congress decided to subsidize farmers to grow crops we don’t need in some cases — such as corn for inefficient ethanol — and to shut down production of other crops.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, managed to earmark the bill so that it gives nearly $70 million in tax benefits to wealthy racehorse owners.
The Associated Press reports that nearly two-thirds of the bill would pay for food stamps, emergency food aid for the poor. About $40 billion would subsidize over-production of crops the free marketplace doesn’t need, and $30 billion will pay farmers to leave land idle, mostly in the interest of saving Mother Earth from make-believe environmental catastrophes.
All this will be paid for by working Americans just trying to feed their kids — people who qualify for neither food stamps nor farm subsidies.
Anyone who thinks farm welfare goes only to poor struggling farm families should consider this: A married farm couple would need to earn more than $1.5 million a year to be disqualified for the welfare payments.
Single farmers can earn up to $750,000 a year before any welfare restrictions kick in.
Another possible disqualifier for farm welfare: Non-farm income of $500,000 annually for an individual or $1 million for a couple. Conceivably, therefore, a couple with just under $1 million in non-farm income and just under $1.5 million in farm income — earning nearly $2.5 million a year — is eligible to receive welfare payments for agreeing not to grow certain crops.
Meanwhile, food prices will continue to climb for working men and women whose paychecks are raided to pay for all this. When you take home just more than half what you earn, don’t feel bad. You’re helping out. You’re helping wealthy farmers, who are being paid not to work in some cases, and you’re helping the owners of million-dollar horses in Kentucky.
It’s important that we give, and Congress decides how we shall give. Good thing, because that racehorse subsidy makes a lot of sense, folks.