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Call for farm bill cost update

ALEXANDRIA, Minn. -- As North Dakota Sen. Kent Conrad retained chairmanship of the Senate Budget Committee, he said: "I do not feel agriculture contributed to the deficit. The irony is, we paid for the last farm bill, we paid for it lock, stock a...

ALEXANDRIA, Minn. -- As North Dakota Sen. Kent Conrad retained chairmanship of the Senate Budget Committee, he said: "I do not feel agriculture contributed to the deficit. The irony is, we paid for the last farm bill, we paid for it lock, stock and barrel and reduced the deficit modestly."

Conrad added that the Congressional Budget Office considered the 2008 farm bill fully offset because of an extension of import inspection fees that were used to pay for a $1 billion-per-year increase in food stamps. Yet Conrad failed to point out to taxpayers that, even with that billion, the 2008 farm bill's annual budget for food stamps was $38 billion, for a total outlay of $189 billion over five years.

Controlling spending

Only in fiscal year 2008 was spending held to $38 billion. In fiscal year 2009, it ballooned to $54 billion, and in fiscal year 2010, it jumped to $68 billion without any new offsets by Congress.

In April, the Congressional Research Service estimated the five-year 2008 farm bill to be about 50 percent over budget -- or just like everything else -- for a staggering $132 billion increase.

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Accountability counts

So why aren't we as taxpayers demanding Conrad update the CRS study with actual fiscal year numbers and new estimates for fiscal years 2011 and '12 for spending transparency all taxpayers can grasp?

My message to Conrad and you: Agriculture is the best vehicle to encompass the spending and financial maze taxpayers find themselves wandering in today.

Agriculture is a true microcosm of the U.S. economy, government policy and lack of accountability.

Agriculture is derivatives, energy, exports, technology, tax breaks, labor and historic government support and spending in an informative format -- if you just allow me to expose it.

Will you be or are you just another Tea Party member or a citizen with a red tag saying, "I Voted?"

Editor's Note: Roebke is from Alexandria, Minn.

Related Topics: FAMILY
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