John McCain was on fire on Wednesday. The Senate was set to vote on the Farm Bill, so the Arizona Republican senator decided to tweet out a list of the 10 worst projects being funded the bill, under the hash-tag #FarmBillPork. Here's number six:
#6 - $10 million to establish new USDA program to eradicate feral pigs. Talk about pork! #FarmBillPork— John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) June 13, 2012
Mac is back, baby!
Some of the projects McCain pokes fun at do seem pretty wasteful. As Politico's David Rodgers reports, Nebraska's two senators wouldn't offer any explanation for why they included a 31-word passage designed to help the popcorn industry. The Farm Bill is notorious for being larded with counterproductive, often wasteful measures. But feral pig eradication isn't a pet project—it's a response to a serious problem with very real economic and environmental consequences.
Feral pigs cause about $400 million in property damage each year in Texas along. The national figure is much higher. Mississippi State's wild pig information site notes that a "conservative estimate of the cost of wild pig damage to agriculture and the environment in the United States currently stands at $1.5 billion annually." That's like three Solyndras! Feral pigs spread diseases, they're bad for business (especially if you own a farm or a golf course), and they're bad for just about any species that's not a feral pig because they're a non-native invasive species. They're also pretty big polluters.
Skepticism is a healthy thing when it comes to massive appropriations bills. But McCain doesn't seem to have any genuine interest in evaluating the merits of a project before he mocks it; he'd rather play to the lowest common denominator by making a joke about pigs. This isn't the first time he's done this, either.