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Alan Roebke, Published December 05 2010

We need to be honest about the real cost of 2008 farm bill

As North Dakota Sen. Kent Conrad retained chairmanship of the Senate Budget Committee, he said the following: “I do not feel agriculture contributed to the deficit. The irony is, we paid for the last farm bill, we paid for it lock, stock and barrel and reduced the deficit modestly,” DTN reported.

Conrad added that the Congressional Budget Office considered the 2008 farm bill fully offset because an extension of import inspection fees were used to pay for a $1 billion-per-year increase in food stamps.

Yet Conrad failed to point out to taxpayers that even with that billion, the 2008 farm bill’s annual budget for food stamps was $38 billion, for a total outlay of $189 billion over five years. Yet only in FY2008 was spending held to $38 billion. Then in FY2009 it ballooned to $54 billion and in FY2010 just ended it jumped to $68 billion without any new offsets by Congress. Plus, in April, the Congressional Research Service estimated the five-year 2008 farm bill to be about 50 percent over budget or just like everything else, for a staggering $132 billion increase.

So why aren’t taxpayers demanding that Conrad update the CRS study with actual FY2010 numbers and new estimates for FY2011 and FY2012 for spending transparency all taxpayers can grasp?

Agriculture is the best example to encompass the spending and financial maze taxpayers find themselves wandering in today. Agriculture is a true microcosm of the U.S. economy, government policy and lack of accountability. For agriculture is derivatives, energy, exports, technology, tax breaks, labor and historic government support and spending; a very informative format if you just allow me to expose it.

So will you, or are you just another tea party member or a citizen with a red “I voted” tag?

Roebke, Alexandria, was a candidate for Congress from Minnesota’s 7th District. He lost the 2010 Republican primary to Willmar, Minn., businessman Lee Byberg.