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The farm bill & food stamps: Finalize this divorce

| Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

If anything positive has emerged from the debate over reauthorizing the unwieldy farm/food stamps bill, it's that the two should remain separate considerations. And even though the U.S. House reunited both after individually considering food stamps, there is renewed hope that in the future, “nutrition” and farm legislation will go their separate ways.

Among reforms, the House legislation staggers the terms of both programs — three years for food stamps and five years for agriculture programs, The Heritage Foundation reports. The intention is that the two bills should not become one again.

The so-called “farm” bill is, in fact, a misnomer. About 80 percent of its costs pertain to food stamps.

Combining the two into one massive package allows not for careful analysis but for all manner of politically motivated economic mischief, especially with regard to price supports for favored commodities and fat subsidies for Big Ag.

And despite hand-wringing from food stamp proponents, continuing that program's status quo — $300 million in fraud annually, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture — is unacceptable.

Yet, “purely from a political perspective,” we're told, food stamps should remain tied to agriculture legislation because it “helps get the farm bill passed,” says Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss. No. In the morass of food stamps and farm supports, politics as usual has cost taxpayers enough.

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