This week, House Republicans passed a rather unusual farm bill. … Most outside conservative groups were aghast at the crop insurance and commodity supports, which will cost taxpayers some $195 billion over 10 years. Yet House Republicans actually made the farm aid more generous, [including] new protections for sugar production.
This raises a question: Why are lawmakers so willing to vote for farm subsidies — even lawmakers who usually oppose government spending? After all, only a small fraction of the U.S. population even farms anymore.
But why? Two common hypotheses (conjecture, not fact): (i) A focused interest group like farmers will change their vote over this, but for others it’s a small thing and doesn’t affect their votes. (ii) Voting districts overweight rural areas. There are fewer people in Iowa and the two Dakotas together than in NYC, yet they get six senators. Is it the same in other countries?