Despite the love affair that Congress has with farm subsidies, such subsidies generally are a bad idea. They transfer huge amounts of money from taxpayers to farmers, interfere with the free market, and build up huge surpluses that are expensive to store.

Sometimes this can bring strange results.For example, the Soviet Union last year bought 140 million bushels of U.S. wheat. The Russians paid less for each bushel than the American taxpayer paid farmers to grow it.

The Soviets bought the wheat for about $2.19 a bushel, while taxpayers paid an average of $2.45 a bushel in subsidies to grow and export it.

What this means is that although U.S. farm exports have grown dramatically this year - up 60 percent from the year before - it's been done by selling the wheat at less than it cost the taxpayer.

Most of the subsidy was paid directly to farmers to grow the wheat. The rest of the cost came through something called the Export Enhancement Program. At the neighborhood store it would be known as "Buy two bushels and get one free."

It's another argument for phasing out the subsidy program and simply letting American farmers compete in the world marketplace.