Regardless of your political persuasion getting a handle on the upcoming farm bill debate means knowing what's on the table. The conservative group The Heritage Foundation has issued its Comparsion of the House and Senate Farm bills and offers its take on what must happen to reform spending in this important area.
The Heritage Foundation is a free-market society and in line with other groups that see the need to significantly reduce nutrition programs and farm bill payments to farmers. A look at their perspective helps frame the debate that's ahead on the topic.
The group supports reforming nutrition programs and is behind the push to create significant cuts in the program. They also support keeping the nutrition and farm bill portions separate for the debate. Last week the House voted to merge its nutrition and farm bills so a House-Senate conference committee could get to work on a final measure.
The foundation is also pushing to reform crop insurance supporting a $40,000 cap on the total amount of subsitdies farmers can receive. The group says that would cut the premium subside back to levels available in 2000.
The group also opposes shallow loss programs being supported in both the House and Senate and quotes the American Farm Bureau Federation as saying "a shallow loss program is a drastic departure from any previous farm policy design." And in keeping with its free-market stance the foundation is also against programs that trigger payments if prices fall below a specific formula.
The farm bill will be back out for debate in post-conference form someday in the future. You can check out the Heritage Foundation blog on the topic and their look at the comparison of the House and Senate versions.