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Farm bill flawed

Tuesday’s editorial takes on the 2007 Farm Bill, which has stalled in Congress since September.

We don’t think much of federal farm policy, which hardly reaches beyond a handful of commodities. It doesn’t do much for Washington’s fruit growers and specialty crop farmers.

The federal government’s approach to farmers came out of the Great Depression, when most Americans lived on farms and many of them were going under.

Today, the two richest men in Minnesota are Whitney and Cargill MacMillan, and agriculture is a main part of their business. According to Forbes magazine, the were worth $2.8 billion a piece last year.

Their company, Cargill Inc., recently reported earnings in the first nine months of their current fiscal year at $2.9 billion, a 69 percent increase from $1.71 billion a year ago.

Some of your money subsidizes their operations, thanks to U.S. farm policy.

Nothing against the MacMillans, who are helping feed the world. They’re piece of the federal action isn’t even particularly large.But why should a family in Kennewick struggling to make ends meet send any of their money to the wealthiest two Minnesotans?

Some farm programs makes sense. Some even need to be expanded, but the reforms needed aren’t part of the bill before Congress.

The Washington Post spent more than a year investigating agricultural subsidies and identified $15 billion in “wasteful, unneccessary and redundant spending.” The Post’s series, Harvesting Cash, is well worth a read.

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