Plant, harvest, sell: It should be that simple

Imagine Farmer A in Iowa grows corn; Farmer B in Georgia grows peanuts; Farmer C in Kansas grows rice. After harvest, these farmers take their crop to market, selling it. It’s not a complicated concept, and there is no reason to complicate it.

So it is difficult to understand, even here in farm country, why a simple industry like agriculture has to be inundated with federal interventions, in the forms of guarantees, insurances, subsidies and regulations. The U.S. Senate this week passed a farm bill, which will cost $100 billion annually for five years. While it’s true that the bill is mainly comprised of the costly, troublesome food stamp program, it would still continue fat subsidies for farmers growing everything from corn, to wheat, to cotton, to rice and sugar.

If you want to know why the federal government is bankrupt and why our nation has adopted a culture of dependency, it is because of actions like the farm bill. The outlay for food stamps alone has more than doubled since 2008, from $40 billion to $80 billion annually. As for the subsidies, why are they necessary? Markets should set prices. Period. We refer you to the George Will column on this page for an in-depth look at the odd politics and distorting effects of sugar subsidies. And what applies to one federal guarantee applies to all of them.

The “conservative”?U.S. House of Representatives gets its turn next with the farm bill. While its debate will be portrayed as contentious and possibly at odds with the Senate version, don’t believe it. The two chambers will argue over greater or lesser “cuts” in food stamps. But the overall impact of the farm bill will remain the same: More bloat, waste and pork from Washington.