Set The Record Straight

April 16, 2008

April 16, 2008

Hello everybody out there in farm country. I am so proud of the sponsors of this program. They are serving our citizens and the citizens of the world in the most meaningful way. Right now, when they are needed most. Monsanto -- there is so much concern about rising food prices. Well, Monsanto's technology is doing more than anything that I know of to increase food production. Renewable Fuels Association -- gasoline prices are high but not as high as they would be if we didn't have biofuels. And Wal-Mart Stores -- that's where our consumer -- trying to stretch the paycheck -- finds real value. It is no surprise in this time of a weakened economy to note that Wal-Mart Stores sales are up. The consumer is not stupid.

Now for today's commentary.

We've all read scores of articles and commentaries criticizing the farm bill. Why are we spending all of the money on farm programs when commodity prices are at an all-time high. I am the first to agree that some refornl of the farm programs is needed.

However, I am tired of reading articles that distort the facts. I have in my hand an article that reads -- "Congress shakes down taxpayers for $286 billion to subsidize farmers." I don't have any idea where that number came from.

The 5-year farm bill that the Congress is working on now is projected to spend $370 billion. More than half the $370 billion will be spent on food stamps. 20% goes to school lunch and child nutrition. That totals more than 75% of the so-called farm bill spending. Then, conservation takes 21 % of the money . You could call that a farm program, but soil conservation is more than that. Crop insurance takes about 8%. That leaves farm commodity programs. They represent about 9% of the $370 billion farm program.

Think of this $370 billion as a pie of money. The food programs get 3/4 of the pie. That leaves only 1/4 of the pie. The commodity programs of what, feed grain, rice, cotton, etc. get only 1/3 of that 1/4 of the pie. That's a pretty small slice. Visualize a pie cut into 10 pieces. Commodity programs would get only 1 piece. That's not $286 billion.

Until next week, I am John Block from Washington.