Government support for agricultural research and food safety can be justified. But direct subsidies to farmers can’t. If subsidies ended tomorrow, wheat would still be grown in Kansas. Subsidies qualify as “low hanging fruit” in cutting federal spending. What’s instructive is that no one is doing it.
Over the years, Congress has played a shell game. When one subsidy appears unwarranted, it’s erased and replaced with another. Thus, we’ve had set-asides, price supports, direct payments, counter-cyclical payments and more. The shell game continues. The Senate Agriculture Committee eliminated “direct payments” and diverted most savings into a new subsidy (“agriculture risk coverage”) and expanded crop insurance.