"I could go on and on with this one, but I think you get the picture. The seeds this department manages may not be growing very fast, but the social programs it produces sure are."
Did you know that the Department of Agriculture is one of the oldest cabinet posts? It has been around since the days of Abe Lincoln. And when it first started up, it made quite a bit of sense. The country needed to get a handle on the seeds which were native to our soil and the ones which were coming into the country. The basic function of the department was to assist this developing and very agrarian country by helping to catalog seeds and plants.
My how times have changed. This very benign yet important cabinet post, set up to help farmers, and ensure food safety, now has really spread its wings. It has a budget of $140B and employees over 100,000 people. One might think, "Do we need that many people to take care of seeds and plants?" The answer is no. Food safety and the care and feeding of our farmers is a drop in the USDA bucket. The rest is all stuff which (I believe) should be in some other agency (or cut).
Hold onto your hats on this one. The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) portion of the USDA Budget is a whopper. Of the $140B, it is $112B - definitely the lion's share. What is in it? Here are just a few items:
- SNAP - better known as food stamps.
- NSLP - National School Lunch Program.
- SBP - School Breakfast Program.
- SMP - Special Milk Program.
- SFSP - Summer Food Service Program.
- WIC - Special Supplemental Service Program for Women and Infants.
I could go on and on with this one, but I think you get the picture. The seeds this department manages may not be growing very fast, but the social programs it generates sure are.
Now is where we really walk on the wild side. Almost $30B of the $140B that the USDA is responsible for goes for housing. Huh? What does that have to do with agriculture? Good question. The program is called the RHS - Rural Housing Service. It is responsible for a wide variety of services which have absolutely nothing to do with food nor agriculture. I could go into some of them, but trust me - you would get dizzy and nauseous.
When Donald Trump talks about cutting back some of the waste in the federal government, this program is (excuse the pun) low fruit on the tree. First off, the food assistance programs should be transferred to HHS. And the housing over to HUD. And the over 100,000 employees could be cut in half of better. This is not IBM for crying out loud!
Drain the swamp, expose the waste. This will be the mantra for the next four to eight years. Some of these federal programs are like the 400 pound man who visits the all you can eat buffet every night of the week. It is time for a crash diet.