It's good to be a farmer. With money rolling in as many subsidized crops such as corn, wheat and soybeans command unusually high prices, and with net farm income expected to hit a record this year, the government continues to throw cash at commodity growers. And despite the fact that a large coalition of corporate interests, environmentalists, nutritionists, economists and international anti-poverty groups has been loudly urging an end to this form of corporate welfare, Congress has so far turned a deaf ear.
Last month, the Senate Agriculture Committee approved a version of the 2007 farm bill every bit as bloated, unfair and irresponsible as the one passed by the House in July; it's expected to come to the Senate floor today. It will continue to award the bulk of subsidies to the richest growers and send checks to gentlemen farmers in Beverly Hills and Manhattan. It will continue to raise consumer prices for some crops, such as sugar, while distorting trade and wrecking livelihoods in the developing world. And it will waste about $16 billion annually in taxpayer money far better spent elsewhere -- the closest thing to "reform" in the Senate bill is a provision that would cut off payments to households making more than $750,000 a year, apparently under the rationale that farmers who make less than this are clearly in need of government assistance.