When Mark Udall (D-Colo.) proposed shaving two-thirds of a cent from just one of the subsidies that go to cotton farmers, Bob Etheridge (D-N.C.) said, “it is absolutely unfair, once we have reached this very delicate balance within the bill, to reach in and single out one commodity.”
That amendment — to cut less than a penny from cotton subsidies and use the savings to protect more than 200,000 acres from sprawl and development — failed by a vote of 175-251. So what was that very delicate balance that the House of Representatives preserved?
Last week, they approved a bill that changed not one cent in the payment rates for cotton, rice, corn, or any other commodity through our most expensive subsidy program: “direct payments.” It looks like "balance" is just another word for "the status quo."
The debate on Farm Bill reform is over for the summer in the House, but the Senate will take it up in September. There is still time to correct some of the inequity of direct payments.
Direct payments are a relic from the 1996 “Freedom to Farm” farm bill; payments that have been labeled as unnece... Read more