The GOP’s Farm Bill Includes Multiple Giveaways for The Rich

SK Ashby
Written by SK Ashby

Remember the House Republican farm bill that crashed and burned because of internal party squabbling over immigration?

The bill isn't completely dead yet but it has been delayed and that has given us time to catch up on measures like this.

One measure will exempt the richest of the rich farm owners from means-testing and another would expand the scope of family members eligible for subsidies even if they don't work on the farm.

Since 2002, Congress has added in multiple means-testing for federal farm subsidies to prevent them from going to the hands of wealthy farm-owners. But tucked away in Sec. 1603 of new bill, is an exemption for "pass-through" businesses from the means testing requirements.

In practice, this would mean that with a simple accounting trick, billionaire farm owners would once again be eligible for lucrative farm subsidies.


Another winner in the proposed farm bill? Farmers' extended families.

Current law allows for the children, siblings and spouses of farmers to receive subsidies up to $125,000 if they have an ownership stake in the farm and are "actively engaged" in the farming operations. But that provision is vague, and does not require the "actively engaged" family members to live or work on the farm.

According to the [Environmental Working Group], a simple conference call can prove "active engagement" and almost a quarter of farm subsidy recipients do not physically work on the farm they receive subsidies for.

Under a provision added by [House Agriculture Chairman Mike Conaway], a farmer's extended family and their spouses, including "'first cousin, niece, nephew," would become eligible for subsidies.

Now, this is the same farm bill that would impose strict work requirements on poor people who receive about $100 per month for food.

I don't know if this is an appropriate reaction, but when I read this -- when I considered the power of this fully armed and hypocritical battle station -- I laughed my goddamn ass off.

Republicans want to kick as many as 2 million people off the food stamp program while greatly expanding farm subsidies for rich people who don't even work on farms. And these two measures are closely related.

The increased subsidies are a redistribution of benefits from the poor to the rich. The cut to food stamps would result in less business for the industry, but congressional Republicans want to make up for that by giving the money directly to the rich, bypassing the middle man at the grocery.

This is like if the government paid Medicaid providers who don't actually see any patients.

There's a word for that: fraud