Policy Plate: Record Profits and Larger Subsidies
Scott Faber, Environmental Working Group vice-president for government affairs, penned an op-ed in today’s Washington Times that asserts that with record profits, farmers shouldn’t be reaping larger subsidies. Some excerpts:
More and more farm payments are being delivered as premium subsidies for farm insurance policies. As more farm businesses purchased government-subsidized insurance, the cost to taxpayers has exploded: from $2.4 billion in 2001 to nearly $9 billion in 2011. Nevertheless, some farm lobbyists have proposed extending these costly insurance subsidies - with no means-testing or payment limits - and creating new entitlement programs.
To make matters worse, some farm lobbyists have proposed to end a 25-year conservation compact that ensures that farmers reduce soil erosion and protect wetlands in exchange for taxpayer subsidies. To help pay for subsidies to the largest farm businesses, some lobbyists have proposed deep cuts to voluntary incentives that help keep pollutants out of lakes and streams. The result is that taxpayers pay twice - once on tax day and then every time they pay their water bill.
- The Kearney Hub, reporting on rapidly rising farm land prices in rural Nebraska, quoted University of Nebraska-Lincoln ag economist Bruce Johnson as saying that young farmers may find it impossible to get into the “land of gentry”
- Reuters reports that high land prices are forcing young farmers to turn to marginal conservation land to plant commodity crops. It says:
- “While not all that land will be suitable for crops, economists say as much as half may be put back into farming for the first time in decades. Younger farmers are driving the return, which could take several years to bear fruit as the hard, untilled soil slowly soaks up multiple layers of fertilizer and softens up for cash crops, according to growers and crop specialists.”
- The Austin, Minn.,Daily Herald’s Matt Peterson writes about the loss of conservation land in Minnesota and quotes Tom Landwehr, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, as saying the trend “will have devastating impacts on prairie wildlife.”
- Minneapolis Star Tribune outdoors columnist Doug Smith says, “The loss of lands enrolled in the federal Conservation Reserve Program threatens to wipe out hundreds of thousands of acres of wildlife habitat in Minnesota, the Dakotas and elsewhere.”
Tweet of the day:
? @farmpress New #Farmbill by September? Don’t bet on it. http://southwestfarmpress.com/cotton/new-farm-bill-september-don-t-bet-it
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