Congress is not in session this week, but they will return next week. When they do, they may take up the farm bill. As I have previously written about, the farm bill increases spending by $3.3 billion dollars over the next five years ,but reduces spending for 2024-2028– assuming future Congress’s do not “adjust” the spending cuts.

This bill is being marketed as a conservative bill because it reforms the SNAP program, popularly known as food stamps. The main reform is the  imposition of new work requirements on some SNAP recipients. It is true that these reforms are expected to reduce costs—starting in 2024 assuming that Congress does not increase spending— but the farm bill actually increases spending on SNAP by $1.771 billion over the next five years.

Even if the bill decreased spending on SNAP that still would not make it worthy of support form fiscal conservatives as it increases subsides for well-to-do farmers including some who own farmland but don’t actually farm!

You can read about the problems with the farm bill here and here.

Farm subsidies go to a population that tends to vote Republican, which is why some otherwise strong fiscal conservatives vote for them. This is why I call the farm bill Red state socialism and it may be why the National Republican Congressional Committee has launched attack ads against Democratic Representatives who voted against the farm bill. The ads say these Representatives “betrayed farmers” by not voting to spend money on farm subsidies.

Of course, the real reason the Democrats voted against the farm bill was the SNAP reforms. They have no objection to spending money to help millionaire farmers. So these ads distort the Democrats position. Having a branch of the Republican Party attacking Democrats for voting against farm subsides makes it more difficult to challenge those subsidies.

If you wish to learn more about the problems with our Agriculture policy and some solutions, please read the Heritage Foundation’s report Addressing Risk in Agriculture, available here. I am a member of the Agriculture Risk Policy Task Force and I helped draft this report.