Farm Bill Deficit Deal Must Include Real Reform Print
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by John Crabtree   
Monday, 17 October 2011 12:13
Lyons, Nebraska - For the Center for Rural Affairs, the most troubling concern about a  proposal rumored to be forthcoming in a letter from House and Senate Agriculture Committee leaders to the twelve member deficit reduction “Super Committee” is whether it would follow the trend of recent farm bill proposals and continue to allow the single most wasteful and counterproductive feature of current farm policy - virtually unlimited federal crop and revenue insurance subsidies.


*Following is a list of questions and background on the subjects mentioned above...

Will the nation’s largest farms and wealthiest landowners get a pass on contributing to deficit reduction?

Will the Agriculture Committees’ recommendations to the Super Committee continue the single most wasteful and counterproductive feature of current farm policy - unlimited payments to subsidize the nation’s largest farms to drive small operations out of business?  

Any serious reform of federal farm programs must cap federal crop and revenue insurance subsidies to mega farms.  They are the most expensive element of farm programs, costing $7 billion annually. And if one big corporation farmed all of America, USDA would pay 60 percent of its insurance premiums on every acre for protection from low prices and crop failure.

Why should the federal government pay 60% of crop insurance premiums on every acre of the largest farms and richest landowners in America, especially in the midst of record high farm income and record federal deficits?

Any serious reform must also close loopholes in the cap on other farm payments. Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Tim Johnson (D-SD) have again introduced legislation to close those loopholes, but it is not incorporated in either the President’s proposal or any of the budget proposals introduced in Congress. That means that whatever revised safety net is established will include no cap on benefits for anyone who takes the steps to form a general partnership with investor partners.

Finally, will the Agriculture Committees’ budget proposal include any room for funding for rural development and beginning farmer programs that invest in creating a future in rural America?   We probably know the answer.  But consider this.  The two last farm bills have invested an average of about $45 million annually in rural development programs from mandatory funds.  Overall federal rural development funding has fallen by more than one quarter since 2003. (See below.)

Why should continuing recent levels of farm bill funding for rural development be a lesser priority than paying the crop insurance premiums for the biggest farms and richest landowners in America, without limit, at a time of record deficits and record farm income?

Subsidies should be capped to powerful mega-farm interests and the savings reinvested in rural development programs that support small business and beginning farmers, create jobs for ordinary rural Americans and build a more vibrant future for small town America.

Rural Community Development Budget Authority Final Appropriation FY 03-11 and President’s Proposed FY 12 Budget (excluding ARRA and mandatory funds for water and sewer backlog )

 

 

FY03

 

FY04

FY05

FY06

FY07

FY08

FY9

FY10

FY11

FY12

Water/Sewer

723.2

 

605

552.1

530.1

554

539

566.8

568

529

489

Buss-ness

127.7

 

91.5

89.6

109.5

71.3

105.9

123.9

121.4

108.3

125

Comm Facility

96.8

 

75.9

89.1

82.6

77

69

50.1

55

41.62

38

Total

947.7

 

772.4

730.8

722.2

702.3

713.9

740.8

744.4

679.1

675


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