Any immediate hope for meaningful reform in the farm bill's larded up subsidy system was dashed when Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announced that she was "very proud" of it. Despite numerous pleas for change from a variety of progressive organizations, Pelosi decided to ignore them and reinstate a bill that "would keep multibillion-dollar subsidies flowing to cotton, corn and a handful of other crops."
Claiming to have crafted a bill that would effectively "represent a critical first step toward reform by eliminating payments to millionaires," the House Agricultural Committee then goes and lowers the adjusted gross income limit on farm program payments to a still lofty $1,000,000 for individuals (which is 5 times more than the cap actually sought by the Bush administration) and to $2,000,000 for married couples. As Blog for Rural America's Dan Owens notes, this can hardly be considered "substantive reform." Perhaps Pelosi's most infuriating remark was her statement that the bill would help "promote our family's farmers." If she believes continuing to dispense seven-figure checks to some of this country's richest farmers and granting huge subsidies to only a handful of crops will accomplish that, she certainly has a strange conception of "promotion."
In justifying this bill's odious provisions, Pelosi likes to claim that implementing any real reform would've cost freshman rural Democrats their next elections. This is patently false: as poll after poll has shown, farmers and Americans living in rural communities actually want these payment limits.
Fortunately, we need not yet abandon all pretense of hope for meaningful reform as we still await the Senate's consideration of the farm bill and the eventually reconciliation that must take place between the two. And while Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI) has vowed to lead a rebellion to amend the bill, the fact that the farm bill is being rushed to the House floor July 26 (meaning that all amendments need to be delivered to the Rules Committee by July 24) will make his prospects for success dim.
Those of you living in the U.S. should take this opportunity to contact Nancy Pelosi and your own representative and urge them to reject this false "reform." We can't embrace any legislation that would force taxpayers to continue providing $2 billion per year in "direct payments" to corn farmers (on top of their already high incomes), regardless of the crop price or income conditions. We need to end all such subsidies that discourage investment and research into new, more cost-efficient forms of alternative energy.
Via ::Mulch: Pelosi "very proud" Of Subsidy Lobby's Farm Bill (blog), ::San Francisco Chronicle: Pelosi promises congressional contempt charge for Harriet Miers (newspaper), ::green LA girl: Time to fight for Farm Bill reform (blog), ::Blog for Rural America: The "Reform" That Wasn't (blog)
See also: ::Round and Round We Go: Is Corn-Based Ethanol Viable?, ::U.S. House Farm Bill Draft Supports Subsidizing Sugar for Ethanol Production, ::Michael Pollan: The Government Makes You Fat, ::Cotton-Subsidy Reform Could Feed, Educate Millions
Image courtesy of Lyndi&Jason;