The Farm Bill is Franklin Delano Roosevelt-New Deal era central planning. Which means for coming up on ninety years – our farmers and their farms have been besieged by constricting, constraining government inanity.
And over that near-century, we have globalized the markets for nigh everything – including food. Which means our dumb domestic farm policy – has helped shape dumb domestic policies the world over. Which collectively became dumb international policy.
Our Farm Bill helped incept and foster an international regulatory arms race. A terrible multi-governments poker game – where farming nations everywhere saw and then raised everyone else’s taxes, tariffs and subsidies.
That’s a lot of governments – engaged in a lot of inanity. We less government types have tried to end the United States’ portion of it – in the exact same way, over and over again, for decades.
How’s that worked? Well, it’s 2016 – and we’re still talking about the Farm Bill and our desire to end it. So, not very well.
The latest group of conservatives to again weigh in – in precisely the same way as all those who’ve come before them – is the Heritage Foundation.
“The Heritage report recommends Congress give the heave-ho to long-time farm bill elements. It argues any new bill should: Disconnect all ag program spending, about 20 percent of the current farm bill, from the law’s nutrition programs, or the other 80 percent of spending; Eliminate revenue-based crop insurance, a cornerstone of the 2014 law, so ‘agricultural producers succeed (or fail) on their own merits;’ Eliminate the bioenergy programs in the farm bill; repeal the ethanol mandate in its entirety and allow consumers a choice at the pump….”
All very sound policy recommendations. All very similar or identical to the policy recommendations conservatives have been making for decades. Yet here the Farm Bill still stands. Which brings to mind the old joke:
“Patient: Doctor, it hurts when I do this.”
“Doctor: Don’t do that.”
To finally end the Farm Bill – let’s try something different, shall we? Instead of yet again trying to unilaterally disarm – let’s globally trade away the Farm Bill piecemeal. Which gets rid of our inanity – and has the added benefit of ridding the international marketplace of government inanity everywhere.
Will it work? In important ways, it already is.
“U.S. Calls Out China on Agriculture Subsidies: Upping the ante on efforts to show it can enforce its existing trade agreements, the Obama administration on Tuesday filed yet another World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute against China, accusing Beijing of exceeding allowable subsidy levels for rice, wheat and corn. The case is the 14th action the White House has taken against China and the 23rd overall — and the U.S., as President Barack Obama noted in a rare statement accompanying the trade action, has won every case decided so far.”
Get that? We’re challenging global subsidies that exceed those allowed by existing trade deals. And we’re winning every time.
So here’s a thought: Why don’t we negotiate new trade deals – that reduce or, better yet, eliminate subsidies? And tariffs? And taxes? Getting rid of our Farm Bill – and all of theirs.
And then challenge anyone who violates these new, less government deals at the WTO – where we’re of late 23-0?
Versus yet again trying to unilaterally get rid of just our Farm Bill – where we’re 0-for-forever?
Like betting on the game, the way to get rid of our Farm Bill is to get out of Washington – and go globe trotting.
This first appeared in Red State.