This little piggy ...

That obese, waddling swine known as the farm bill just got bigger.

Apparently, $280 billion over five years just wasn't enough in handouts and other welfare for agricultural producers.

So on Thursday, the Senate Finance Committee magically conjured up an additional $16 billion for farmers by redefining the rules for tax shelters.

In other words, by raising taxes on many businesses.

About $5 billion of the extra money will go toward the creation of a weather-related agricultural disaster fund. The rest will go to "tax credits for conservation, rural development and other farm programs," The Associated Press reports.

It's worth noting that the Environmental Working Group, which has angered agricultural welfare queens by published a detailed list of subsidy recipients, released a study this week pointing out that most disaster aid goes to farmers in only a handful of low rainfall states, including North Dakota and Montana.

The Finance Committee that just approved the disaster fund includes Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., and is chaired by Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont.

At this point, nobody knows what the final version of this monstrosity will look like -- or cost. The final version of the Senate bill -- to be written in the Agriculture Committee -- has yet to emerge and must be reconciled with the House bill.

But the measure certainly isn't getting any smaller. And it has yet to include any strict limits on subsidy payments, a provision the Bush administration has demanded to ensure big agricultural producers aren't soaking up millions in taxpayer handouts.

The president has threatened a veto if subsidy limits aren't strengthened. He shouldn't back down.


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