Policy Plate: Gross Inequity in New Crop Insurance Data
NEW on the Environmental Working Group’s highly-regarded farm subsidy database (more than 350 million searches since 2004): crop insurance data. Through a Freedom of Information Act request we found that:
- More than 10,000 individual farming operations received federal crop insurance premium subsidies ranging from $100,000 to more than $1 million apiece last year.
- 26 farm businesses received $1 million in subsidies to buy crop insurance last year.
Now anyone can see the list of policyholders receiving the most insurance subsidies by nation, state and county. Since federal law prohibits taxpayers from knowing which specific farm businesses received million-dollar subsidies, the names are replaced with “policyholder IDs.”
The lack of government transparency in identifying million dollar crop insurance subsidy recipients is the latest in a troubling pattern of federal efforts to keep farm payment information secret.
The new information demonstrates how the government payments are concentrated in just a handful of highly profitable mega-farms.
- Senator Dean Heller (R-Nevada) has introduced a farm bill amendment banning “members of Congress, their spouses and immediate family members from benefiting from agricultural programs authorized in the farm bill.” Go here to read EWG’s list of members of Congress that receive farm subsidies.
- Duane Sand of the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation and Chris Peterson, president of the Iowa Farmers Union make the case that “Conservation compliance benefits farms in long run.”
- Wes King of the Illinois Stewardship Alliance says “Direct payments have been criticized for subsidizing farms as deeply in good years as bad. Federal crop insurance goes further, providing bigger subsidies in years of lesser needs.”
- American for Prosperity’s Christine Harbin writes in today’s the Hill “What savings? 2012 Farm Bill is agribusiness as usual.”
- Public health lawyer Michele Simon released a report today that “raises questions about how much food makers, retailers, and big banks profit from food stamps.”
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