There was no 2012 farm bill. Instead, in the fiscal cliff negotiations, Senator Mitch McConnell and Vice President Joe Biden agreed to an extension of the 2008 farm bill through September 31, 2013, with the expectation that a new farm bill will be written in 2013. The delay was a real blessing for taxpayers, who would have been stuck with paying for a potentially exorbitantly expensive set of new “shallow loss”, insurance, and price support farm subsidy programs if the House and Senate Agricultural Committees’ 2012 farm policy proposals had become law. But now attention has turned to the 2013 farm bill, with congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle searching for inefficient, wasteful and outdated programs where federal spending can and should be cut. For seven decades or more, for the most part federal farm programs have consisted of an array of subsidies, regulations, spending programs, and land-use restrictions that waste economic resources, transfer tax payer dollars mainly to rich landowners and wealthy farmers, generate environmental degradation, impose fiscal burdens, and are largely responsible the failure of global trade negotiations. These inefficient and outdated policies are once again up for renewal. They deserve to be heavily scrutinized, and most of them probably scrapped, especially at a time when federal budget deficits have simply become unsustainable.
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