June 12, 2013
The $1 trillion Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2013 is the insidious continuation of a bad idea. When I first thought of writing about the proposed Farm Bill I wanted to tell what was in it in order to encourage a “NO” vote. As I researched, I discovered that welfare was firmly entrenched in more ways than one. All who have watched government gain size and power know that it is government’s restrictions on business as well as their policies for the poor that build the clientele called “the needy”. I read about the history of farm assistance, who is served and its cost. This all came together to expose this unnatural collection called the Farm Bill.
This bill includes: payments for growing and for not growing crops; dairy assistance; livestock losses; pays for orchards & trees if lost in natural disasters; environmental quality incentives; wetland reserve; grassland reserve; water enhancement; conservation stewardship; wildlife habitat; & watersheds.
It extends: Food for Peace Act & Agricultural Trade Act of 1978; Food for Progress; Bill Emerson Humanitarian Trust; McGovern-Dole International Food for Education & Child Nutrition Program; food distribution for Indians; several different commodity distribution & food programs; food stamps (now called SNAP); credit program under Rural Development; rural electrification; distance learning; telemedicine program; National Agricultural Advisory Board; grants & fellowships for food & ag science education; grants to Alaskans, Hawaiians & Hispanics; animal health & disease research; upgrades to ag & food science colleges; grants for international ag science & education; assistance to biosecurity programs; assistance for aquaculture & rangeland; and grazing lands research lab.
It authorizes: Ag & Food Policy Research Centers; funds for wheat disease research, youth organizations, crop research & Office of Pest Management; natural products research; sun grant program; forest stewardship program; forest legacy program; community forest; open space conservation program; urban & community forestry assistance; Office of International Forestry; rural revitalization; biobased marketing; biomass research; agricultural biosecurity grants & local capacity development; bioenergy program for biofuels; Ag Biosecurity Communication Center; community wood energy program; grants for labor force; speciality crop market news; speciality crop grants; farmer’s market & local foods promotion program; organic production; assistance for minority or veteran farmers & ranchers; and getting rid of wild pigs.
It revises: hunger-free communities program and Land-Grant Status Act of 1994.
It establishes: Donald Payne Horn of Africa Food Program; healthy food financing; rural energy savings plan; grant program for veterinary services; food training network; four Pest Management Centers; Foundation for Food & Ag Research; national clean plant network for pathogen elimination services; Wildlife Reserve Zoonotic Disease Initiative; program for U.S. sheep; and a new position of Military Veterans Ag Liaison.
In the bill a minimum price is set for sugar which is expected to send companies scurrying for cheaper chemical sugar substitutes, again bad for American’s health.
It prohibits: an individual from attending, or causing a minor to attend, an animal fight.
Even with listing all of the above, to me, the most egregious part of this bill is the rider The Monsanto Protection Act (1) (2) which continues the temporary measures put in place with HR 933 (3) (4) previously passed. Even though it is a requirement of the United States Department of Agriculture that all seeds be tested for harmful effects on humans, the Monsanto company, and all agriculture companies, will be allowed to sell their Genetically Modified seeds (Organisms) without testing. As of this date there are suits against Monsanto for altered plants “showing up” in organic fields.(5) If future health problems arise from the use of the untested GMO’s, these companies will be given a free pass in that no one can sue them for the damage. In addition, this bill forbids the USDA from stopping their sale of GMO’s even if they are found to be dangerous to our health. What did NOT make it into the bill was a proposed amendment that would have forced labeling of modified crops and foods made with them.(6) (7) Many countries ban the growth of GMO’s and are refusing to import U.S. grown modified crops.(5) It should be noted that Monsanto is ready to fight back, evidenced by their contracting with the private mercenary army, Blackwater, to infiltrate the ranks of world-wide anti-Monsanto activists as well as scan content of their blogs and websites.(8)
Another major health concern is fluoride spray on our food supply. Even the EPA has come to the conclusion that spraying fluoride on food is literally overkill. The EPA has agreed to phase this practice out. Amendment SA 1122 to the Farm Bill will reverse the efforts to remove the hazardous fumigant, sulfuryl fluoride, from our food supply.(9) (10)*
As of now there are regulations about pesticides entering our waterways across the country. SA 1100 and 1103, two additional amendments to the Farm Bill, would remove protections.(9) Remember that Monsanto has incorporated pesticides into the genes of their altered seeds. If GMO’s take over, we will never have crops without pesticides again.
Groups are arguing farm subsidies vs food stamps when neither should be happening. By giving our tax money to farmers, the feds are again picking winners and losers in another type of bailout. Food stamps are actually mandated charity. These types of expenditures were never within the sphere of what the federal government is allowed to do.(11) Within this bill is an attempt to stop the practice of paying farmers to NOT GROW crops (as they have done for decades), but at the same time, an admission that they still will do subsidies “in a different way”. Those who accept this money, gathered by force from taxed citizens, are users of clever welfare, heretofore collected without shame. In this “farm” bill”, 20% is for farm programs and 80% is for recognized welfare in the form of food stamps. The USDA is planning to spend around $70 billion just on food stamps this year.
On the farm side, subsidies (bailouts) are a Trojan Horse that come with mechanisms to wrestle payback from the farmers. In the farm bill, authority over the agricultural businesses is distributed among several federal entities that have various costly rules and regulations.
On the welfare side, expanding the number of people that can avail themselves of food stamps to 1 in every 7 Americans helps justify Congress’ Socialistic jobs. Since 2008, users of food stamps are up 65%! Does this mean that 46 million people are incapable of supplying their own food and must take from their neighbors?! Besides giving more people opportunity to be on the take, government is constructing the framework for joblessness. Intel CEO explains, “I can tell you definitely that it costs $1 billion more per factory for me to build, equip, and operate a semiconductor manufacturing facility in the United States.” Mr. Otellini elucidated that high American labor is not the problem. Higher taxes and regulatory charges, not imposed by foreign countries, account for 90% of the added costs in America. America now has the highest corporate tax rate in the world. Other CEO’s of major companies have confirmed that America has a hostile government toward business which gives a death blow to blue-collar jobs. A little over thirty years ago more than sixty American companies were AAA rated. Our country has lost it’s triple A rating as have most companies. Currently there are only four. With good jobs fleeing the country, a never-ending circle is propagated as the government breeds more and more welfare recipients and then promotes programs to support them. The Farm Bill is part of this Socalistic cycle.
So the federal government overtaxes and overregulates which stops job producing income, pays farmers with printed, unbacked money and pays people who will not work to support themselves. That would be three more bad policies that are helping to bankrupt America.
In case it is thought that I have strayed too far from the subject let me emphasize that deciding IF a farm bill should even be done precedes dissecting the bill itself.
What I have listed is not the complete bill, but enough to enlighten you as to why this one is dangerous to us, individually and as a country, but more importantly, to impress upon my readers the greater threat of all farm bills. It is Socialism. It takes only from those workers that achieve and pay taxes and gives to those who have no scruples about taking something they have not earned. When one takes handouts from the government, he must be willing to admit that he is interested in what personally helps him to profit, not in what is in the best interests of our country.
Subsidies began with the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1933 under President Franklin D. Roosevelt when farmers were paid to not plant crops and to kill off livestock to limit each and therefore raise the prices people would have to pay for them. This was to benefit the farmers. Someone had to come up with the funds for this program so the government targeted the companies that processed farm products with a tax. This cost was passed on to the consumer who was already paying more for the food. This programs, as with so many today, try to achieve equal outcome, not equal opportunity.
This form of Socialism was challenged when the Supreme Court decided in 1936 that it was unconstitutional to levy a tax on processors that was then given to farmers. They also recognized that regulation of agriculture was a state power. In 1938 Congress overruled that decision and continued the farm program.
In 1973 Farm Bills expanded to include commodity programs, trade, rural development, farm credit, conservation, agricultural research, food & nutrition programs and marketing. They now also include international and environmental concerns, the well-being of rural communities and food safety.
Farm Bills are usually presented and passed every five years and amend, reauthorize or repeal policy already in place and establish new policy. These bills are often controversial and suffer heated debates in Congress.
An unpromoted treachery of these managers of your tax money is that many of the wealthy recipients of farm subsidy money are the congressmen themselves who sit on the agricultural committees which shape farm bill policy. In the past fifteen years, some have pocketed millions from the programs they put in place.(12) (13)
Especially with America being trillions of dollars in debt, it is unconscionable that so many slip their crafty hands into this nonexistent pool of money. It is understandable how the destitute might reach for this aid but when the wealthy, and all in between, come to the trough for money that must be borrowed or printed without backing, it is clear these are not the acts of proud Americans.
It is not just this Farm Bill that I encourage a “no” vote on. It is all of them. The very idea of gross interference into private businesses is against our Constitution and free-market capitalism which could serve so well to again make America prosperous.
*Link to contact senators to vote no on amendment with proposed override of FDA’s proposed phaseout of fluoride spray