Government Watch

20 Completely Unjustified Programs in the House Farm Bill

Diane Katz and Daren Bakst – The Foundry –

The House of Representatives is preparing to vote on a $1 trillion package of agriculture subsidies and welfare benefits that exemplifies warped federal policy. Within its 575 pages, the proposed Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act includes massive spending on food stamps, a bumper crop of insurance subsidies, and lots of conservation largesse.

But there are also a multitude of lesser-known programs that will inflate commodity prices, escalate risks, and expand the size and scope of government. Below are 20 such programs that represent the noxious nature of the so-called farm bill.

  1. Income limitation for commodity and conservation programs. Allows the wealthy(annual adjusted gross income up to $950,000) to collect agriculture subsidies. So much for “family farmers.”
  2. Demonstration projects on Acceptance of Benefits of Mobile Transactions.Enables needy food stamp recipients to use their iPhones to make grocery purchases.
  3. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) pilot program for the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Expands food stamp benefits among the 58,000 inhabitants of 15 islands in the western Pacific Ocean.
  4. Rural Business Investment Program. Provides $20 million annually to create government-subsidized businesses in places evidently inhospitable to private business investment.
  5. Policy research centers. Authorizes $5 million annually for grants to politically favored think tanks to do the same type of work as the Congressional Research Service and the Office of Management and Budget.
  6. Special import quota for upland cotton. Imposes a trade restriction to ensure that American consumers pay more for the fabric of our lives.
  7. Natural Stone Research and Promotion Board. Creates a quasi-government entity to spend the revenue generated by a new tax on rocks.
  8. Farmers’ Market and Local Food Promotion Program. Provides $40 million annually to redecorate farmers’ market stalls and roadside stands in a manner befitting their yuppie customers.
  9. SNAP Nutrition Education Program. Budgets a whopping $375 million for 2015 to teach food stamp recipients that candy, soda, and chips do not constitute a well-rounded diet.
  10. Weather radio transmitters. Authorizes $1 million annually for radio equipment that falls under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of Commerce (National Weather Service), not the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
  11. Agriculture research and development (also known as the “No Commodity Left Behind” provision). Designates research priorities to be specialty crops, sorghum, peanuts, and sugarcane. But what about heirloom tomatoes and organic pineapple?
  12. National Sheep Industry Improvement Center. Subsidizes modern shepherds and herders who evidently need government assistance to market their sheep and goats.
  13. National Clean Plant Network. A lot of green—$137.5 million—to promote the use of healthy plants (as opposed to farmers using diseased and pest-ridden ones).
  14. Honey Report. Requires the Department of Agriculture to consider a federal standard that would inevitably make honey more expensive.
  15. Olive oil import control. Imposes import controls on olive oil (to drive up prices).
  16. Rural Energy for America Program. Provides subsidies to farmers and rural businesses for “renewable” energy systems so they, too, can have costly and inefficient energy.
  17. Community Wood Energy Program. Grants to state and local governments to return their communities to the good ol’ days of burning trees for heat.
  18. Community Forest and Open Space Conservation Program. Provides grants to communities and Indian tribes to establish local forests (since there would be none without the federal government).
  19. Christmas tree tax. Allows the government to collect a new tax on Christmas trees for promotion (because otherwise we might forget to buy one for December 25).
  20. Price-loss coverage for peanuts. Guarantees the incomes of peanut farmers, because they have a very strong lobby in Washington, D.C.

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I notice that several of the items included in the farm bill expenditures are not directly related to agriculture. As for the first item about payments to family farms, I am aware of one family farm that involves several brothers and their families that farm over ten thousand acres. Seeing that in this area a farmer needs about 2000 acres to support his famiy and have enough left over to replace equipment and pay taxes, rent on farmland and all the other very expensive input costs, not to mention the risk of farming, I think that it is a family farm that qualifies for payments, even though it seems like a lot of money. It is not excessive if you know what they have to do to receive those subsidies. Speaking of being overpaid, I think the US President and Senators are “subsidized” far too much by the taxpayers. Farmers… Read more »


When “foodstamps” are being used for tattoos, manicures and pedicures, strip clubs, birthday balloon purchases, CASH (to buy beer and cigarettes) and other “essential” nutritional items, the entire program needs to be revamped. There is NOBODY monitoring this ridiculous program and it’s Obama’s wish that another 25 million or so be allowed to enter this EBT nightmare of a program. We live fairly comfortabley on our retirement, nothing fancy – but could easily qualify for and receive an EBT card and free cell phones. This is a travesty!!!!! Congress tried to cut $2 billion from this worthless waste of money, but Obama says he’ll veto it so “millions won’t starve”. Therein lies the crux of the problem………. a Dictator who wants full control of his “subjects”. If we can de-throne King Obama, we might be able to save this country from sure ruin.

Dewayne Brown

I could not believe what I was reading! These are some of the most ridiculous and outlandish programs I have ever seen. What did they do, give a bunch of druggies a pencil and paper and ask them to list things the government should do? People on food stamps being able to use their iPhone to make their grocery purchases? No wonder this country is going to Hell in a handbasket.


Yet another bill loaded up with lots of “Christmas goodies” as they say in Washington. It’s our money being wasted on numerous things of questionable value.

john bussey

The “adjusted gross” income for a family farm would exceed this level. Anyone who does not realize this doesn’t know anything about a real family farm. The people at this income level may still have a hard time making ends meet.


I LOVE this…

2. Demonstration projects on Acceptance of Benefits of Mobile Transactions.Enables needy food stamp recipients to use their iPhones to make grocery purchases.

If you are so needy that you need food stamps, then where did you get the money for an i-phone?

Give me a break!!

Anita Jamison

I will want a list of the idiots that pass this!! Vote them out!! Food stamps are such a joke!!

Michael Schlitz

It seems that I am in the wrong business. I should develop a meaningless program, study or plan and have it funded by government subsidies. PLEEEEEEEEASE gimmee some pork!

Terri Cook

Really!!!! Enough!

Erlene Pilgrim

I think it is all a bunch of crap I am very tired of our government and there spending they think it is there money to do as they please I think we need to remind them they work for us and it is our money they are using so freely and if any one should have a say in how it is spent it should be the American people let us vote for how it is spent and on what it is spent on.

Vence Meneely

The new bill also contains the PESTT act which will put USDA WS in direct competition with private wildlife control businesses.