Freedom First Society

Issue: H.R. 2, Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018Question: On Passage of the Bill, as amended (3/5 vote required).

Result:  Passed in Senate, 86 to 11, 3 not voting. GOP and Democrat selected vote.

Freedom First Society:  This 2018 “Farm Bill” authorizes Department of Agriculture programs that spend more that $140 billion tax dollars annually without a shred of authorization anywhere in the Constitution.  The authorization includes federal welfare in the form of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly “food stamps,” now provided to more than 40 million Americans, as well as crop support welfare for somefarmers.

As expected, the GOP leadership made no effort to roll back and curtail this federal intervention and distortion of a market economy. Of some encouragement, 11 senators (all GOP) voted against H.R. 2.

We have assigned (good vote) to the Nays and (bad vote) to the Yeas. (P = voted present; ? = not voting; blank = not listed on roll call.)

Bill Summary:   Every five years, Congress tasks itself with renewing something informally called the “Farm Bill,” which defines policies and authorizes programs for the Department of Agriculture.  While originally dealing with agricultural price supports and crop production, the mission of the Department of Agriculture has expanded greatly.

From the Congressional Research Service Summary:  “This bill (commonly known as the farm bill) reauthorizes through FY2023 and modifies Department of Agriculture (USDA) programs that address: commodity support, conservation, trade and international food aid, nutrition assistance, farm credit, rural development, research and extension activities, forestry, horticulture, and crop insurance.”

According to Wikipedia: “Approximately 80% of the USDA’s $141 billion budget goes to the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) program. The largest component of the FNS budget is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly known as the Food Stamp program), which is the cornerstone of USDA’s nutrition assistance.”

Analysis:  A week after the House passed H.R. 2 (Roll Call 284, June 21) the full Senate took up the measure and immediately substituted its own version, as passed above.  This means that H.R. 2 will likely go to a House-Senate Committee to iron out differences.

Farm Bill History

The original “Farm Bill” known as the Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA) was a creature of the FDR administration.  David Eugene Conrad, author of The Forgotten Farmers stated: “The real authors of the farm bill, despite the pretext of the farm leaders’ conference, were [FDR’s Secretary of Agriculture Henry] Wallace, [Columbia University professor] Rexford Tugwell, and Mordecai Ezekiel…. Also consulted were George Peek [who became the program’s first administrator], Henry Morgenthau [soon FDR’s Secretary of the Treasury], General Hugh Johnson and [Wall Street financier] Bernard Baruch.”

After quitting his post in frustration, George Peek complained about the Insider architects of these farm policies: “they admired everything Russian…. To them Russia was the promised land and the sooner the United States became like Russia, the better for everyone.”

Several months prior to signing “reluctantly” the 1985 Farm Bill (officially, the “Food Security Act of 1985), President Reagan argued: “If spending more money on agriculture would solve the problem, we would have solved it by now.”

In the November, 1989 newsletter published by the free market Ludwig von Mises Institute, James Bovard argued:

“The key to understanding American agricultural policy is to realize that the vast majority of the 400 farm products produced in America receive no federal handouts. There is no fundamental difference between subsidized and unsubsidized crops — only a difference in campaign contributions to congressmen by different farm lobbies.”

Thomas Jefferson, at one time a farmer himself and a strong advocate of limited government, wisely stated:

“Were we directed from Washington when to sow and when to reap, we should soon want bread.”

There is no place for federal welfare in a strong America. Other programs in the Farm Bill not discussed here are equally destructive.  Th Farm Bill has become massive, but there is little talk of reversing this trend.   Indeed, Senator Pat Roberts (R-Kansas), Chairman of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee, in proudly introducing the legislation stated:

“The bill  that passed the Agriculture Committee with a strong 20-to-1 vote earlier this month addresses many of those concerns. In fact, the Ag  Committee-passed product includes portions of 65 stand-alone bills, and  an additional 73 amendments were adopted in the committee. We have also  included 18 amendments in today’s substitute amendment.”

As with so many of his fellows, Senator David Perdue (R-Georgia), cousin of the current Secretary of Agriculture, embraced the federal intervention as though federal support was obviously necessary  for farmers to succeed:

“This is, indeed, a  strategic industry. It must survive, and it is different.  Getting to a farm bill that balances the needs of every commodity and every region is not an easy task….

“We have reduced global poverty. Since 1965, when the Great Society  was signed, the United States almost singlehandedly — on the back of our  open market, on the back of our trade deals, and on the back of the our  military, which provided for safe transportation of goods around the  world — has reduced poverty by more than 60 percent. I have seen that  happen in my career, in my lifetime.   Unfortunately, in the United States, the poverty rate today is basically the same as it was in the midsixties….

“As I said, while the current farm bill is not perfect, I am proud to  stand today and encourage every Member of this body to support it and  vote for it. It does provide certainty in a very uncertain world for  our agriculture community.”

America desperately needs Congress to roll back and abolish the subversive, unconstitutional programs launched under prior administrations, such as FDR’s New Deal, Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society, and Jimmy Carter’s Department of Energy (that primarily prevents American from enjoying plentiful low cost energy) to name a few.

But the drive for such a roll back will not come from within Congress itself.  It must come from an informed electorate.  Please share these scorecard posts widely.

Also see our analysis of the 2013 Farm Bill signed by President Obama (H.R. 2642, House Roll Call 31, 1-29-14).

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