By Alan Bjerga - Jun 17, 2013 5:25 PM CT

Tucked deep in the 1,198-page U.S. House agriculture policy legislation is an initiative to guarantee prices for sushi rice. So too is insurance for alfalfa and a marketing plan for Christmas trees.

Catfish farmers also get a morsel in the proposal being taken up this week: profit-margin insurance. The products represent a tiny fraction of the $440 billion U.S. farm economy. Yet each is slated to receive special treatment -- either through subsidized insurance, promotional programs or protections against imports -- in the bill that carries an estimated 10-year price tag of $939 billion.
Enlarge image Sushi Aid in $1 Trillion Agriculture Bill Angers Watchdogs

A chef uses organic rice as he prepares a sushi roll at a contemporary Japanese restaurant in Sacramento, Calif. Photographer: Rich Pedroncelli/AP Photo
Enlarge image Sushi Aid in $1 Trillion U.S. Agriculture Bill Irks Watchdogs

New initiatives in the agriculture bill are meant to benefit everything from olive oil to sushi rice. Photographer: David Silverman/Getty Images
Enlarge image Sushi Aid in $1 Trillion U.S. Agriculture Bill Irks Watchdogs

Corn grows in a field in Tiskilwa, Illinois. Both the Senate and House versions of the agriculture bill would reduce payments to growers of corn, wheat and other crops by eliminating a $5 billion-a-year program of direct subsidies while expanding subsidized crop insurance. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

“We’re in a golden age of agriculture,” with producer profits projected at a record $128.2 billion this year, Vince Smith, a professor of agricultural economics at Montana State University, said at a briefing on Capitol Hill last week. The House bill “is about as bad a bill as I could think of writing as an economist,” he said.
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The federal government seems to be completely unaware that we are broke.