When it comes to government spending, farm policy provides an unparalleled return on taxpayer investment. America enjoys the most affordable, widely available food supply in the history of mankind for about 1/4 of one percent of the federal budget.
That’s why it’s so odd that organizations dedicated to defending taxpayers spend so much time focused on gutting farm policy. Truth be told, if they are spending more than one-quarter of 1 percent of their time on farm policy, their priorities are out of whack.
Yet earlier this month, these so-called taxpayer advocates came together for a strategy session on how to write one commodity out of the farm bill altogether. The most ironic part: the commodity in their crosshairs, sugar, has cost taxpayers $0 since the 2014 law took hold.
Why are farm critics singling out a no-cost sugar policy? The leader of Americans for Tax Reform, who was joined by the National Taxpayers Union and Citizens Against Government Waste, didn’t mince words.
“If we can get rid of sugar policy,” he told the room, “then we can get to all of the other farm programs as well.”
And there you have it. This farm bill debate is about complete annihilation. It’s about leaving America’s farmers and ranchers without any policies to rebuild after weather disasters, survive the falling farm economy, or withstand the rising tide of foreign market manipulation.
If agriculture ever needed a wake-up call to come together, then the Americans for Tax Reform just rang the bell.
They view sugar as the most politically powerful farm group, and they believe that bringing down sugar will start a chain reaction of destruction. Crop insurance is next on their hit list.
As we head into this farm bill debate, all of American agriculture must band together with one common goal: to preserve all of American agriculture. This legislative objective should apply to every grower no matter what they grow or where they grow it.
An attack on a sugar beet farmer in Colorado is the same as an attack on a peanut farmer in Georgia, a California fruit and vegetable producer, or a Pennsylvania dairyman. Conversely, a sugar cane farmer from Texas must fight for the farm policies essential to Minnesota corn farmers.
Our message to Congress is simple. If the policy is good for American agriculture, support it. Any scheme to weaken any part of American agriculture must be defeated.
Rural Americans must stand together. One for all.