May 21, 2008

2007 Farm Bill Vetoed

Since I wrote about this anticipated veto a little bit ago, I can't say I was shocked by President Bush's press release today that he had officially sent H.R. 2419 back to the House. You can read in full the President's rationale for the veto, and I'll also leave what I think is the most important argument right on this blog:

At a time when net farm income is projected to increase by more than $28 billion in 1 year, the American taxpayer should not be forced to subsidize that group of farmers who have adjusted gross incomes of up to $1.5 million. When commodity prices are at record highs, it is irresponsible to increase government subsidy rates for 15 crops, subsidize additional crops, and provide payments that further distort markets. Instead of better targeting farm programs, this bill eliminates the existing payment limit on marketing loan subsidies.

We'll lay aside that the actual gross income cap is 1.2 million ($500,000 maximum from the farm, and $700,000 maximum out-of-farm), and just work on the Executive's general impression that this number is too high. Agreed, though I wouldn't stop the bill over that, especially since the cap is down from 2002.

It's also true that commodity prices are at record highs, and that subsidies are a part of that. By 2012, maybe we will be able to foster enough agricultural production in growing economies globally that we won't need subsidies to pad our market. We aren't there yet, and it is a little odd to hear President Bush make an argument for liberalisation of the US market.

Two good points, Mr. President, but is it really so bad that you simply couldn't stomach it?

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