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Farm bill

New farm bill allocates 80 percent of $1 trillion spending program toward food stamps; $200 million annually toward advertising for Big Ag

Wednesday, February 12, 2014 by: Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
Tags: farm bill, spending program, Big Ag

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(NaturalNews) The Republican-controlled Congress, with full support from the Democrat-led administration, has passed a monstrosity of a farm bill that allocates hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars to fund food stamps and other government welfare programs. It also mandates that $200 million be set aside every year to help promote factory food products grown by the likes of Monsanto.

CBS Evening News recently ran a short segment on the legislation, which one government watchdog correspondent recently referred to as "the ultimate in pork-barrel politics," highlighting how its nearly $1 trillion in funding will be allocated. Most of it will go toward the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), more commonly known as food stamps, while the rest will cover expensive and unjustly distributed subsidies for cash crops and crop insurance.

"The farm bill is a disaster for taxpayers," stated Tom Schatz from Citizens Against Government Waste, a non-profit organization that keeps an eye on illegitimate government spending, to CBS News. "It's a boon for the special interests."

Farm bill needs to be 'gutted,' says correspondent

Kenric Ward from Watchdog.org seems to agree, having written an extensive piece about why the farm bill should be completely gutted. Besides greatly benefiting Big Ag at the expense of small-scale, organic agriculture, the new farm bill is a special interest nightmare in almost every regard, allocating massive amounts of taxpayer dollars to wealthy corporations and landowners.

"Since 1995, just 4 percent of agribusinesses have collected three-quarters of the subsidies," writes Ward. "This bill barely touches the subsidies reaped by large agribusinesses."

As it turns out, many members of the GOP who voted for the bill had previously promised to implement some major changes to it first, including massive cuts to wasteful or outdated programs. Instead, the massive funding package was expanded by an astounding 50 percent, and even more money was allocated for promoting GMOs (genetically modified organisms), junk food and industrial agriculture.

"At a time of supposed fiscal caution, this bill [will] put taxpayers on the hook for another five years of billion-dollar handouts," stated U.S. Public Interest Research Group's (PIRG) Dan Smith about the crummy legislation, as quoted by Watchdog.org. "Even the most modest reforms to trim subsidies for the largest players were stripped out or watered down."

Primary recipient of farm bill funding: Big Ag

In a recent piece published for EcoWatch, U.S. PIRG provides even more details about how large agriculture companies will become richer and more powerful as a result of the new farm bill. Billions of dollars in crop and crop insurance subsidies for major agricultural corporations, not to mention large cash infusions for junk food advertising, illustrated the true beneficiaries of this massive redistribution of wealth.

"[I]n in a political sleight of hand, the bill plows more than half the savings from cutting Direct Payments into a new subsidy program that will continue to give handouts to large agribusinesses that don't need our tax dollars," explains the group. "For millionaire farmers, the checks will keep on coming."

The bill also contains hidden tax increases on things like heating oil for families trying to stay warm in the winter, as well as live Christmas trees. By passing the bill, Congress successfully implemented a new 0.2-cent-per-gallon tax on home-heating oil and a 15-cent tax on every Christmas tree cut in or imported into the U.S.

"It's a 'Christmas tree bill,' where there's a gift for practically every special-interest group out there with a well-connected lobbyist," says the Club for Growth, a free-market advocacy group, as quoted by Watchdog.org.

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