Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Dirty Little Secrets About the Recently Passed Farm Bill

Choice quotes from the debate to over ride the President's veto of the Farm Bill and some choice comments of my own.

You can read all about it here.

Sen Judd Gregg (D-NH): In favor of the veto:
I said in my earlier talk, where did all the economists who worked in the Soviet Union go, all those folks who sat behind desks and thought about 5-year plans and how to disconnect supply from demand and how to set arbitrary prices which caused the Soviet Union, a nation which was one of the great producers of agricultural products, to become basically a net importer of product? Where did all those economists go when the Soviet Union failed? It appears they moved to the Midwest and the South and developed our farm programs.
I lead with the Democrat who is opposed to the bill simply because just about all of the other idiots who support this bill then go on to attack his statements, which is fine, that is what debate is all about. What struck me in reading the transcript is that all of the other senators went after either the Washington Post or Senator Gregg.

Sen Saxby Chambliss (R-GA): In favor of over riding the veto
About 73 percent of the outlays in this bill go to the nutrition title to provide for the food stamp program, to provide for the school lunch program, to provide for payments to our food banks. All of those programs are designed to feed people who are hungry and needy in this country.
So let me get this straight, this bill isn't about the farmers at all, but who dares to oppose a bill with Farm Aid in the title right.

Sen Richard Durbin (D-IL):
In the other case, called Almendarez, a Federal district court refused to consider a suit brought by low-income people who need assistance in a language other than English to apply for food stamps. The Department's regulations clearly provide rights for families that need language assistance. Now the act explicitly confirms that those regulations are enforceable. Future cases can be decided on the merits, as they should be.
Anybody want to guess how much it is going to cost to find somebody who speaks Swahili to comply with the new mandates in this bill? You think having interpreters for the dozens of languages spoken in this country to represent clients at trial was expensive just wait till your local farm board has to have Korean linguists on the speed dial. And if the person doesn't speak English just how is the average Joe supposed to figure out what language is being spoken?

Sen Thomas Harkin (D-IA):
Mr. President, I want to respond to a couple things my friend from New Hampshire said. He talked about the sugar provisions in the bill and the support price of sugar, that it is over world prices. I always point out to people that when you go in a restaurant, or anywhere you go to eat, the sugar is free. You get these little packs of sugar wherever you go. You go to Starbucks, you get free sugar. You go to the airport, and you go down and get a cup of coffee, or something like that, there is free sugar. It cannot get much cheaper than that.
Uh, Mr Harkin, do you really think the cost of that sugar isn't added into the price of the product being sold or do you really believe that coffee costs four bucks a cup like they do at your local Starbucks? Just for your information a lot of us don't drink designer coffees.

Anyway the deed is done. Most commodities are now set at a set price mandated by the government. Oh you didn't know that was what this bill was really about? That is what is comes down to so even if the price of the produce comes down in the open market our price will not go below the fixed price.

Senator Gregg once more:
These programs have no relationship to the market or setting prices for commodities, which are basically totally out of tune with the market. They have no relationship to market forces. As a result, the American consumer ends up with a much higher bill and the short end of the stick.

Take sugar alone. Sugar prices in this bill are at least twice the world price for sugar. So the American consumer ends up getting hit for a much higher cost for any product that uses sugar. And just about any food commodity of any complexity uses sugar.

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