House leaders on Tuesday proposed a drought relief package for ranches, orchards, and nurseries as a substitute for the massive five-year farm bill that has been stalled for weeks in the deeply divided chamber.
But the very same flaws that have sidelined the omnibus farm bill—lavish subsidies and perverse incentives among them—likewise taint the new ad hoc measure. Wrong-headed policy is no less objectionable when delivered in small packages.
The current farm bill expires on September 30, but lacking votes for passage of the $957 billion H.R. 6083, House Speaker John Boehner (R–OH) has denied a floor vote on the bill (which was approved July 12 by the Agriculture Committee). Its counterpart, S. 3240, has been approved by the Senate. Boehner initially considered a vote on a one-year extension of current farm programs, but that option, too, was rightfully rejected.
Now comes the Agricultural Disaster Assistance Act of 2012, which would reauthorize for fiscal year (FY) 2012 (retroactive to October 2011) several disaster relief programs that expired on September 30, 2011. The measure is focused on livestock and specialty crops, because taxpayer-financed crop insurance will compensate the vast majority of other farmers.