Saturday, June 15, 2013

WP's Samuelson on farm subsidies

WP columnist Robert Samuelson bemoans the looming passage of another massive, wasteful farm bill.  Despite the federal budget crunch, expect taxpayers to continue to pay $15-20b each year.  Samuelson points out why this policy no longer makes any sense.  Almost all of the subsidies go to mega-farms; the days of the small family farm are over.

Sure, farming is risky, but not exceptionally so.  Resort properties depend on good weather to make money and no serious person would suggest that we need a federal program to protect them from extreme weather.  Further, farmers can use options to hedge their risk.

Money quote:
The survival of farm subsidies is emblematic of a larger problem: Government is biased toward the past. Old programs, tax breaks and regulatory practices develop strong constituencies and mindsets that frustrate change, even when earlier justifications for their existence have been overtaken by events.

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