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Congress Is Facing Yet Another Bad Farm Bill

President Trump just announced new tariffs on steel and aluminum. But Unfortunately, this effort to make America great again simply transfers wealth from the general population to a few (already wealthy) companies, and harms companies and especially their employees in other countries.

Subsidies are much like tariffs in that they transfer wealth away from the general population to a small number of usually wealthy people while harming still others, including some of those whom the subsidies are intended to help. Agricultural subsidies are a prime example.

Congress is currently working on a new farm bill (it passes one every five years) that is as bad for the economy as tariffs. Almost no one is speaking for consumers. But on the other side, the American Farm Bureau Federation, American Soybean Association, American Sugar Alliance, Farm Credit Council, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Corn Growers Association, and others are asking Congress to protect existing farm subsidies and add new ones to the complex web of rules, programs, and payments that total about $20 billion annually.

Who gets those subsidies? In 2016, 27 percent of commodity payments went to the small family farmers who make up 90 percent of all farms. They also only got 17 percent of crop-insurance protection. Seventy-three percent of commodity payments and 83 percent of crop-insurance indemnities went to the largest 10 percent of farms.

Randy T Simmons is a Senior Fellow at the Independent Institute, Professor of Economics at Utah State University, and co-author of Nature Unbound: Bureaucracy vs. the Environment .

New from Randy T Simmons!
NATURE UNBOUND: Bureaucracy vs. the Environment
Environmental policy has been guided since the late 1960s by demonstrably false assumptions responsible for a host of ineffective or wasteful, command-and-control policies—on air pollution, water pollution, endangered species, wilderness, renewable energy, and more.