by David Martin
U.S. Rep-elect and tea party favorite Vicky Hartzler is going to Washington with a promise to cut spending. Of course, she's not keen on the idea of messing with Medicare, Social Security or the military, the popular programs which pose the country's long-term deficit problem.
Instead, Hartzler proposes that Congress think about freezing its pay and other fiddling-while-Washington-burns gestures.
Hartzler says she's open to the idea of reducing farm subsidies, but she's hinting that fields of corn are tantamount to military bases because they provide "food security." It just so happens that Hartzler Farms Inc. is one of the recipients of freedom-ensuring USDA subsidies. Hartzler and her husband, Lowell, collected $774,489 in farm aid from 1995 to 2009, according to Environmental Working Group.
In an interview with the St. Louis Beacon, Hartzler suggests that the USDA could cut some fatty from the patty by discontinuing the Conservation Reserve Program, "where you pay farmers to not plant ground and set it aside for a while[.] I'm not sure. The time for that may be over."
Hartzler neglected to mention that the voluntary Conservation Reserve Program exists for reasons other than idling farmers. The program takes highly erodible land out of production. Millions of acres of topsoil have been saved through the program, which protects groundwater and improves lakes, ponds and streams.
The Hartzlers, as you might imagine, are not eager participants. According to EWG's numbers, conservation subsidies made up only 0.5 percent of their haul.