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Farm bill mess

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Contact Colin McNickle (412-320-7836 or

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Sunday, Jan. 27, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Tucked away in the misnomer that is the American Taxpayer Relief Act is a nine-month extension of the 2008 farm bill, which as it exists provides no relief for U.S. consumers and is overly ripe for reform.

Left unchanged, this mess will cost taxpayers almost $1 trillion over the next 10 years, according to The Heritage Foundation.

Congress can start the process by separating out the $85 billion food stamp program and other nutritional services that take cover under farm subsidies. Only then can lawmakers begin to prune this bill.

Topping the cut list should be the “direct payments” program, which ludicrously provides subsidies to farmers of certain commodities “depending on their historical acreage and yield rather than price or production,” writes Heritage scholar Emily J. Goff. The primary beneficiaries are large, profitable farms, which already have record net income.

Another taxpayer drain is the Dairy Product Price Support Program, which (contrary to all the fear-mongering over future milk prices) perverts prices by manipulating supply and pads farmers' income, Ms. Goff reports.

It's past time to plow under this nonsense and prepare to plant anew.

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