April 14, 2009 5:06PM

Feds Pay Farmers to Till the Desert

No, this headline and story is not brought to you by The Onion.

The latest proof that there’s nothing more permanent than a temporary federal program:

As drought forces families in the West to shorten their showers and let their lawns turn brown, two Depression‐​era government programs have been paying some of the nation’s biggest farms hundreds of millions of dollars to grow water‐​thirsty crops in what was once desert.

My sympathy for this farmer lies somewhere between that which I have for Bernie Madoff and Ted Stevens:

Jim Hansen, a 69‐​year‐​old cotton grower in California’s Central Valley, said his family business would crumble if the government took away low‐​cost water and the nearly $1.7 million in crop payments he received in 2007 and 2008.

For more on the insanity that is federal farm policy and why the USDA needs to be downsized and/​or done away with, click here.