The following is a statement from Joshua Sewell, Senior Policy Analyst at Taxpayers for Common Sense on the passage of H.R.2 – The Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018 commonly known as the 2018 Farm Bill.
The Farm Bill – H.R.2 – The Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018 just passed the House and will now go to the President to become law. Problem is – the farm bill is a costly failure that is treasure trough for special interests that fails real farmers.
The country needed a farm bill that is transparent, cost effective, responsive to changing conditions, and above all, accountable to taxpayers who will foot the bill. A bill that addressed our nation’s broken agricultural safety net, and reformed the expensive, complex set of confusing programs that do not serve the majority of farmers and ranchers, much less consumers or downstream communities. Taxpayers deserved an open and robust debate amongst more than a small group of the usual power players standing to benefit from the status quo. Taxpayers also needed a bill that would reduce Washington’s role in picking winners and losers in the agricultural economy. And a bill to actually address the greatest threat to farmers and ranchers: the loss of markets due to Congress’s abdication on trade policy.
What the nation’s taxpayers got was none of the above. It is clear this bill is worse than the status quo. It’s a step backward on efforts to ensure that farm safety net programs are focused on actual farmers. It increases the complexity of the agricultural safety net to the detriment of taxpayers, consumers, and new and beginning farmers. The process undertaken to ram through the 2018 farm bill makes a mockery of regular order and reveals the hostility many members of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees have for taxpayers, who are forced to foot the bill for their package of parochial pandering. And it does absolutely nothing to provide Congressional guidance to resolving the Trump Administration’s trade war that threatens generational harm in the agricultural economy.
Farm Bills are an opportunity for true bipartisan cooperation in developing nutrition and farm safety nets that are cost-effective, transparent, responsive to need, and in which all parties are held accountable for results.
This bill, however, is one big costly missed opportunity.
For more in-depth analysis on the Farm Bill, please refer to our Farm Bill Resource Page
-Joshua Sewell, Senior Policy Analyst