(Daily Mail) -- The federal government pays for a $15 million 'wool trust fund,' runs a $170 million program to protect catfish growers from overseas competition, sets aside $3 million to promote Christmas trees, funds another $2 million to help farmers sell more sheep, and plunks down $100 million researching how to get Americans to buy more maple syrup.
And that spending is just three one-hundredths of one per cent of the Farm Bill that President Barack Obama signed Friday in Michigan.
Liberal and conservative watchdogs alike are hopping mad at what they say are pork-barrel projects included in the five-year agriculture spending law as home-state perks to lawmakers that are unneeded or redundant.
There's a new 15-cent levy on every live-cut Christmas tree, a proposal that Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack had blocked but will now be beyond his control. Tree growers will put the money into a fund for 'industry-funded promotion, research, and information program[s],' but the cost will inevitably be passed on to consumers.
The Farm Bill also includes $1 million in grant money to buy weather radios, despite the ubiquity of weather.com and the plummeting costs of both Internet service and smartphones.
And it continues a $200 million 'market access' program that has paid companies like Fruit of the Loom and McDonalds to run commercials.
One grant from that fund even funded a reality TV show in India aimed at promoting cotton. Another paid Welch's $844,000 to hawk grape juice outside the U.S.
The conservative Club For Growth called the legislation, which took members of Congress three years to write, 'a "Christmas Tree" bill where there’s a gift for practically every special interest group out there with a well-connected lobbyist.'
It's $956 billion of spending overall in a ten-year period, sketched out in legislation 959 pages long – nearly $1 billion per page.
But most of that money goes to food-stamp and nutrition programs, which are administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The 10-year spending total for those entitlements will hit $756 billion under the new law.