Welcome back to the Weekly QuizCap. This week, it’s all about the farm bill! Learn everything you could possibly want to know about this year’s barn burner!
The Senate and House Agriculture Conferees revealed the 1006-page farm bill legislation alongside the 807 page conference report explaining the agreements. How long did Senators review the agreement before voting on its passage?
This is same as reading the Lord of the Rings trilogies…twice! Clocking in at under 19 hours, that’s really impressive work by Congress. Or maybe they didn’t read the whole thing, which may explain many of the items in the rest of this quiz…
How long did the Senate have the estimate that the bill would cost $867 billion over the next 10 years prior to voting?
The Republican Congress recently repealed a provision requiring that the Senate would need a cost estimate at least 28 hours before voting on the legislation. Fiscal responsibility and transparency are relics of the past.
How much of the farm bill funding is allocated to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP/food stamps)?
Funny the largest agriculture bill carries the name “farm” bill when over 80% of its funds goes to welfare nutrition programs. Maybe it should be called the food bill?
Unemployment is at its lowest rate in 50 years. How has SNAP enrollment changed over the last decade?
While it makes sense for SNAP enrollment to increase amidst the great recession 10 years ago, it's puzzling that the high enrollment rate has continued through a strong economy. House Republicans tried to place work requirements on SNAP participants, but that effort was thwarted by Senate Republicans and Congressional Democrats.
True or false. Non-farming family members are able to qualify for farm subsidies?
While limits on SNAP eligibility were rejected, the farm bill actually expanded the eligibility of farm subsidy payments to include cousins, nieces, and nephews, even if they don’t work on the farm. So city slickers can receive up to $125,000 in taxpayer payments annually! Sen. Grassley was upset with this development, stating, "I’ve been trying to make sure the people who get the subsidies are real farmers. … I’ve been trying for three years, and it gets worse and worse and worse."
Last year, farm subsidies went to residents of which location?
Residents in America’s five most populated cities received nearly $17 million over a three-year period, including Chicago ($7.7 million), Miami ($4.5 million), New York City ($2.8 million), Los Angeles ($1.6 million), and Philadelphia ($309,000). In fiscal year 2017, $4.8 million flowed to America’s most affluent ZIP Codes. Recipients in Beverly Hills and West Hollywood collected $139,080 and $94,090 over the last three years, respectively. In Washington, D.C., more than 350 recipients received $1.7 million in fiscal year 2017 farm subsidies.
What is the fourth largest crop in North Dakota in terms of dollar value of production?
North Dakota receives more than $500 in subsidies for every state resident, with North Dakota farms receiving an average of more than $15,000 per year in federal farm subsidies.
The 2014 Farm Bill reformed the crop insurance subsidies to try to make the system more cost effective. Policymakers expected changes would save taxpayers $16.6 billion. How much have they actually saved?
Not only that, but the 2018 farm bill will allow farmers to jump in and out of the two main crop insurance programs to ensure that they can get the most taxpayers support – undoubtedly increasing the costs even more.
Six commodities (peanuts, soybeans, cotton, wheat, corn, and rice) account for 28% of farm receipts in America. What percentage of farm subsidies do they receive?
A good portion of what you buy at the grocery store receives little or no help from taxpayers. However, there are a few commodities that receive “special” attention from members in Congress including cotton, wheat, rice, corn, peanuts, and soybeans.
The Ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee said “You will not be able to lose money unless you really try” about which industry.
While proponents of the other two have been making bold claims about profitability, only small scale dairy farmers have the profit guarantee support of the US Congress compliments of you, the taxpayer.
Speaking of cushy guaranteed subsidies, how much, on average, does the U.S. spend on sugar subsidies every year?
A controversial issue that almost sank the farm bill earlier this year, the bill continues to provide price supports and place import quotes to protect the American sugar industry, forcing Americans to pay twice as much for sugar while protecting a small cadre of wealthy sugar farmers.
Controversial in some constituencies, the farm bill legalized the production of hemp. What barriers did hemp farmers face before restrictions were removed?
Hemp farmers can now access banking, water rights, and can qualify for crop insurance.
The farm bill provides special benefits for which items?
The bill not only continues, but makes permanent (i.e. it doesn’t have to get reapproved by Congress), the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) – a program that was recently up for elimination. Given the projects that it is funding, its permanent fate should have been elimination rather than taxpayer backing.
Another taxpayer backed program is the Market Access Program. The program supports advertising for companies like Bacardi, California Wines, Ocean Spray and other major corporations in overseas markets. How much have taxpayers spent supporting these ads?
Taxpayers have spent $4.5 billion on the MAP program since 1978. Must be nice.
There has been a lot of concern about concentration in the agriculture industry. Farms with more than $1 million in annual sales comprise only 4% of total farm operations. How much of the total output do they control?
That is the largest promotion since the USDA began tracking the stat in the 80’s. Three-quarters of America’s farmed cropland is controlled by 12% of farms. Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI) voted against the farm bill, stating, "Taxpayer subsidies going to a few but very large agribusiness's which is leading to the overproduction…It's leading to the consolidation that we are seeing in production agriculture. It's driving up land values and making it harder for new beginning farmers to enter the occupation. It's not fiscally responsible.”
What did Congress do this week to tackle the $21 trillion debt and massive $100 trillion in unfunded liabilities?
They rushed through a nearly $1 trillion farm bill while setting up a $3 billion discrepancy as the reason to shutdown the government next week. Meanwhile, our annual deficits have never been this high outside of war or recession. DC is reaching new levels of irresponsibility at the time we need strong leadership the most.