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Published November 02, 2010, 07:29 AM

Farm subsidies lend to budget woes

CHICAGO — American taxpayers say they’re sick of federal bailouts, but here we go again.

CHICAGO — American taxpayers say they’re sick of federal bailouts, but here we go again.

This year, the government expects to pay almost $12 billion directly to one small sector of the economy where incomes have skyrocketed even as the recession has hammer-

ed so many others.

Wall Street bankers? Nope, your friendly family farmers.

It seems like the government never can do enough.

Recently, another gift arrived in the form of new environmental rules allowing the sale of motor fuel with an increased percentage of ethanol, which U.S. producers brew from corn. It’s a great way to keep grain prices high — and they have just set a two-year record.

Money coming in

Funny how you haven’t heard much about farm subsidies in the run-up to the Nov. 2 election. Farm lobbyists, and the landowners who mainly benefit from these programs, know enough to lie low when the money is pouring in.

And is it ever. The current farm programs pay almost as much in good times as in bad. During August, federal analysts forecast a 24 percent gain in farm incomes this year, on top of banner years in the recent past. For every dollar of that income — $77 billion in all — taxpayers contribute 16 cents.

After the election, lawmakers need to approve a federal budget. The farm lobby is gearing up to fend off the predictable attacks on their little piece of it, hoping at least to postpone the day of reckoning until the current farm bill expires at the end of 2011.

The nation faces its third consecutive trillion-dollar federal deficit this fiscal year. Wasteful and trade-distorting agricultural subsidies have to be led to the slaughterhouse.