Policy Plate: More Editorial Scorn for Crop Insurance
Media in the heart of farm country continue to heap scorn on the Senate Agriculture Committee’s proposed farm bill. The Minneapolis Star Tribune’s editorial board had this to say today in piece titled, “Congress Should Rein in Crop Insurance:”
The bill slashes at least $23 billion from some farm subsidies and other programs, meaning lawmakers are living up to their pledge to stop making direct payments to farmers for crops they don't grow. That's progress. However, in a political sleight-of-hand, the senators want to pour money back into the farmers' pockets with over-the-top crop insurance subsidies.
Who loses in this scenario? Small and beginning farmers, American taxpayers and rural communities, in part because the federal subsidies are paid regardless of income. The nation's farmland would also suffer because the senators aren't requiring qualitative land stewardship practices as a condition for payment.
And Farm and Food File columnist Alan Guebert gets right to the point with concerns about crop insurance in the farm bill. An excerpt:
The Senate's Farm Bill is like trading sugar water for Kool-Aid. It's a sweet deal for farmers, but it's just more empty spending by Congress.
– Brent Sohngen, a professor of agricultural, environmental and development economics at Ohio State University lays the blame for water pollution by farm chemicals on high demand for chemical-intensive crops such as corn and soybeans. The federal corn ethanol mandate forces 40 percent of the US corn crop to be burned in gas tanks and has put unprecedented pressure on corn stocks.
– Related to the pressure on corn stocks from ethanol, Clean Air Task Force’s Conrad Schneider writes in today’s National Journal that, “If all of the corn grown in the United States in 2011 had been used to make ethanol, it would have offset national gasoline consumption by just 18 percent.”
– And the Chicago Tribune editorial staff also hammers corn ethanol in an editorial titled, “Ethanol, steak, lawnmowers.”
– The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports on conflicts between Midwest and Southern farmers that threaten progress on the farm bill.
– The United States Healthful Food Council “aims to improve Americans' health by offering incentives and assistance to restaurants and foodservice providers.”
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