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AgMag BLOG

Feeding your mind, saving the planet >>

Editorials All Over the Map

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Environmental Working Group releases today an updated interactive map containing more than 550 pro-reform farm bill editorials -- nearly a 100 since the last farm bill. The newly added editorials call for significant reform to current food and agriculture policy in a way that is beneficial to family farmers, hungry children, taxpayers and the environment. And while industrial agriculture lobbyists will attempt to dismiss the deluge of editorial scorn as coming from “coastal elites” many of the loudest calls for reform come from farm country papers like:

The Lincoln, Nebraska Journal Star:

If not handled properly, the crop insurance program has the potential to turn into a boondoggle for taxpayers and a disaster for conservation. Loose requirements and lax enforcement could mean farmers getting revenue from crop insurance on land that never had a prayer of producing a decent yield.

The Kansas City Star:

Keep in mind that farm income is already at or close to record highs. At some point, one would think that even members of Congress would understand that subsidized farming on marginal land is a waste of tax dollars. The ecological damage resulting from such a policy is likely to be considerable. Beefed up crop insurance will mean the loss of more grassland and native prairie to the plow — which might make sense if the point were to raise more food. But encouraging farmers to plant unproductive acreage merely to collect subsidies is inexcusable.

The Cedar Rapids Iowa Gazette:

…the insurance component as it stands doesn’t do much to encourage conservation practices and may put more marginal cropland at risk. That potential shortcoming needs to be addressed.

The Mankato, Minnesota Free Pess

With the current five-year Farm Bill to expire in September, most agree that direct subsidies to farmers — which sends $5 billion to landowners no matter their income — will be curtailed. But some are angling to simply replace those subsidies with an “insurance” program that would foolishly have taxpayers subsidizing farmers’ income.

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Table Scraps:

-          Reuters reports “Proposals to avert bigger cuts in food stamps and reduce certain crop subsidies are among more than 70 amendments the U.S. Senate will consider this week to a massive farm bill.”

-          The Cato Institute’s Tad DeHaven and Chris Edwards write in the Hill’s Congress blog “Farm subsidies distort agriculture, damage the environment, and harm our international trade relations. Worst of all, farm subsidies are welfare for the well-to-do.”

-          Salt Lake City’s Desert News editorialized “And a good deal of the bill also would subsidize crops that are the basis for sugary and starchy foods and drinks, or junk food — the very thing that is feeding a national obesity and health crisis.

-          The Oregonian editorial board writes “Farm bill needs to help organic crops bloom.”

-          At Iowa’s ABC affiliate KCRG, Orlan Love writes “The “corn rush” continues to shrink acreage enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program, widely acknowledged to be one of the greatest boons to the environment in the nation’s history.”

-          The Seattle Times’ editorial staff asks if its “Time to include local and organic farms in the Farm Bill?

-          Former North Carolina Congresswoman and assistant director general of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization Eva Clayton writes that the farm bill needs to “support small farmers and nutritional programs that are key components to the viability and health of an agriculture economy.”

Tweet of the day

@TBWheeler South Baltimore company Big City Farms aims to expand fresh food production across city http://t.co/wcidfUmD

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