Despite the fact the new farm bill has been greeted warmly in selected parts of farm country, it is viewed dimly by some policy wonks and rural advocates as an agent of economic distortion.
Most of the subsidies promulgated by the farm program will flow to the relative handful of producers who grow commodities that have historically been favored by government farm programs. Critics charge the policy encourages farmers to produce more to maximize government payments. The outgrowth, they say, is a government subsidized cheap and reliable stockpile for grain merchandisers and large livestock feeding operations.
While there are many critics of the farm program, the most vocal disparagement of the law is from American trading partners. That criticism is fueling renewed efforts by some in congress to rein in the policy.
Less than thirty days have passed since the new farm policy was signed into law by President Bush, but ideas on how to change the law are already under discussion. Some farm state senators are proposing a lower payment cap while others are hoping to divert funds from the subsidies to disaster relief for Western farmers. Farm groups also are putting in their two-cents worth in an effort to help defend the increased payment plan to the rest of the world.
Despite those efforts, the six-year, 51-point-7 Billion dollar Farm Bill continues to be a burr under the saddle of the global marketplace. The main sources of ire are from the expansion of subsidies to a wider range of crops and a 67 percent increase in agriculture subsidy funding.
Canadian agricultural officials at the World Food Summit in Rome called the U-S farm policy a bad example for the rest of the world. Poor countries also have reacted negatively to the increased payouts. Critics in Africa claim subsidies for farmers in rich nations only hurt third world countries by continuing to tip the trade balance in favor of economic might.
Perhaps most critical of U-S farm policy is European Union Agriculture Commissioner Franz Fischler who continues to stand by his long held belief that U-S farm subsidies hurt the world agricultural community. Fischler condemned the subsidies this week claiming U-S lawmakers view the 19-point-one billion dollar yearly subsidy cap as a target for spending instead of a limit. Fischler alleges that the European Union is well below its spending limit and will continue to make cuts in subsidies.