What do farm bill funds support?


By-the-numbers support piece


If Congress and the media were bound by truth-in-advertising laws, there wouldn't be a farm bill.

Rather, the law that pumps billions of dollars into rural America would be called the Food Stamp Act.

That's where the bulk of dollars contained in a farm bill that passed out of the House in July would go. All told, the bill would cost every man, woman and child in the United States nearly $950 over the next five years if it becomes law.

The $286 billion bill represents at least $5.8 billion more in spending than in the previous farm bill passed in 2002. Most of the added spending would support nutrition programs and would be paid for by instituting a tax on U.S. subsidiaries of foreign corporations.

The grab bag of programs to benefit both farmers and city dwellers is designed to make the bill attractive enough that it will pass Congress. It's a tactic that's been used successfully since the 1960s.

- Most of the money in the House bill – $190 billion – would go for food stamps, school lunches and other nutrition programs. That adds up to $631 for every person in the United States.

- The next-biggest chunk, $42 billion ($139 for every U.S. resident), would go to farmers in price supports and other subsidies, mostly for five crops: cotton, wheat, soybeans, rice and corn.

- Another $25 billion ($83 per capita) would go for conservation programs aimed at protecting watersheds and wildlife habitat.

- Finally, $29 billion ($96.30) is allocated for research, marketing programs, alternative energy programs, rural development and various other projects, including money for foreign food aid, high-speed Internet service in rural areas and a settlement of racial discrimination claims against the U.S. Department of Agriculture levied by black farmers.


Bruce Rushton can be reached at 217-788-1542 or bruce.rushton@sj-r.com.