One of our greater American films – is Groundhog Day. Where Bill Murray’s character – television weatherman Phil – is caught in a time loop. He awakens every day – to the exact same day. He is stuck on February 2nd – Groundhog Day.
Once past the bewilderment stage, Phil understandably, quickly grows increasingly perturbed with his predicament. On Day Whatever of his cursed closed circle, Phil goes on air with a dispirited, sardonic “It’s Groundhog Day. Again.”
I felt exactly like Phil – when I came across this:
Groups Are Coming Up with New Policy Ideas for a New Farm Bill: “While much of America is focused on the November presidential election, farm groups are already talking about the next farm bill. Early policy ideas are already being brainstormed by agriculture groups….This new bill can’t come soon enough for both the cotton and dairy industries. ”
It’s Farm Bill time. Again.
Wait a minute. We passed the last one – in 2014. It lasts for five years – until 2019. What gives?
What gives is – in DC, bad bills never die. They exist on a cursed closed circle – ever-ready for the next renewal. So when it comes to shaping it as much as possible to your advantage – why wait until the last minute? Or election cycle?
And because it’s DC, an actual solution to the problems that make the Farm Bill a Groundhog Day-esque regularity – isn’t being discussed nearly as much as the Bill itself.
But a solution does exist. Which will rid us – one bad portion at a time – of the accursed Farm Bill. It’s free trade. It’s less government. It’s zero-for-zero:
“Where we approach the planet and say ‘You get rid of your trade barriers, and we’ll get rid of ours.’ In other words, we have zero protectionism – and so does everyone else.”
Right now, it’s being proposed for sugar:
“‘In attempting to reform and improve sugar policy in the United States, … the zero for zero approach … holds an as yet untried avenue that could possibly break the stalemate,’ writes Mark Hartley in a recent study. ‘Consider that there are more than 100 sugar producing countries worldwide, and there are also basically 100 different sugar policies, each of which includes various forms of government intervention,’ he continues. ‘[A] free market approach rewards the best and most efficient business people and not the most heavily subsidized producer,…[zero for zero] could stabilize domestic and ultimately world market sugar prices … [Getting] government out of markets creates free markets, and free markets lead to free and fair markets, and that, in the final analysis, is where world sugar needs to be.’”
But why just look at Mr. Potato Head’s lips? Let’s look at the whole Mr. Head – and all his parts.
The Farm Bill is Mr. Potato Head. Made up of exactly the sort of stuff zero-for-zero cleans up on sugar – for nigh all farm products. So we should zero-for-zero approach – nigh all farm products.
“‘Britain – how about if you get rid of this subsidy, we’ll each get rid of one.
“‘India – if you get rid of this tariff, we’ll each get rid of one.’”
Lather, rinse – and repeat. And repeat, and repeat, and….
Zeroing out trade barriers of all sorts. Rendering much less government – and much freer trade.
We do this on farm commodity after farm commodity. And by the time 2019 rolls around – there will be a whole let less Farm Bill to renew.
Keep zeroing out trade barriers, and there may be in 2024 – no Farm Bill to renew at all.
The best route to ending our domestic Farm Bill – our Groundhog Day recurring nightmare – is all the way around the world.
It would absolutely be worth the trip.
This first appeared in Red State.