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Shocker! Congress not Heeding Americans’ Farm Bill Needs

Friday, May 18, 2012

E&E’s Amanda Peterka reports (subscription required) on the sad state of reform efforts in the farm bill hearings held this week by the House Agriculture Committee:

The new farm bill is unlikely to return to a policy from the late 1980s and early 1990s that required farmers to abide by certain conservation requirements in order to receive crop insurance subsidies from the government.

It is also unlikely that the legislation will set any limits on crop insurance subsidies, given near-unanimous opposition on the part of the farming community. Instead, the five-year bill likely will bolster the program, which is projected to cost the government $90 billion over the next 10 years as it stands.

The lack of any meaningful reform prompted this response from EWG’s Craig Cox:

Where was the talk of “fiscal responsibility” and shared sacrifice? Just a few short weeks ago, the committee voted to slash $33 billion from the SNAP program [food stamps] in the name of deficit reduction, but the only message we heard coming out of this week’s hearings was, “Show us the money."

The House committee is heading in the opposite direction of what voters want. When polled, 60 percent of Americans say that farmers should be required to meet environmental standards, such as protecting water quality or soil health, as a condition of receiving subsidy payments and subsidized crop insurance. That number jumps to 65 percent in the six biggest ethanol-producing states.

A majority of 52 percent said subsidies for crops such as corn and soybeans should top the list of programs to be cut, and 49 percent named crop insurance as the next target. Only 31 percent ranked conservation programs as top targets for cuts, and just 23 percent wanted to slash food aid for low-income Americans.

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Table Scraps:

-          Minnesota Public Radio looks at the farm bill deliberations and quotes the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition’s Ferd Hoefner as saying, “Ya know, to the extent anybody wants to call it insurance, it's 100-percent subsidized insurance, which is the kind of insurance policy I'd like to have if it was offered to me.”

-          Three Maryland high school students are finalists in the Siemens “We Can Change the World” challenge with their project on tackling pollution from farm runoff.

-          Scientific American reports on how a common pesticide “disturbs” children’s brains.

-          Bob Cesca at AOL Daily Finance, writing about Monsanto, calls it “the evil corporation in your refrigerator.”

-          Ari LeVaux writes in the Atlantic that, “The War Between Organic and Conventional Farming Misses the Point.”

Tweet of the day:

?@LauraRide loving the “table scraps” and Policy Plate. Thx! #farmbill

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