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Babcock Talks Drought on Colbert; Top Chefs, Health Experts Denounce House Farm Bill

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

As the Des Moines Register reports Iowa State University economics professor Bruce Babcock appeared on the show to talk about the Midwest’s historic drought, but the conversation turned to crop insurance.

“Wait, wait, wait wait, wait. Hold on, sir. A federal insurance program? That’s just Obamacare for our corn,” Colbert said.

“Well, in essence, you are right. It is Obamacare for the corn,” Babcock replied.

“So that means eventually all these farmers will be facing death panels,” Colbert said.

Click here to watch the video.

In related news, today, Chef Mario Batali, author Michael Pollan, and more than 60 other leading chefs, food and agriculture policy and nutrition experts, business leaders and environment and health organizations sent a letter to Capitol Hill denouncing the House farm bill. The notable signers urged lawmakers “to vote a resounding ‘no’ should the legislation come to a House floor vote, unless the bill is extensively rewritten through the amendment process.”

Table Scraps:

Two of the nation’s top newspapers have published editorials highlighting the flaws in crop insurance.

The New York Times writes:

Obviously, crop insurance is important to an inherently risky business exposed to the vagaries of not only the world marketplace but the weather. But the purpose of insurance should be to protect farmers against losses, not to guarantee profits, especially for the bigger farms that command a disproportionate amount of the taxpayers money, and certainly not to guarantee the good life for the insurance companies.

But that’s the way the game is rigged now, and that’s that the way it will continue to be rigged under both the Senate and House versions. These farm bills, in short, are not about the drought but about preserving an inequitable status quo.

The Washington Post writes:

Before Congress rushes through the farm bill, it’s worth reflecting on all the ways existing policies worsen the drought’s impact. More corn would be available for animals if not for federal ethanol mandates. One reason for drought- and flood-related crop losses is that federally subsidized crop insurance encourages farmers to cultivate marginal land and engage in other risky practices, knowing that taxpayers will, in effect, bail them out. Both the House and Senate versions of the farm bill would increase subsidized crop insurance, thus accentuating this moral hazard…

…farmers should have to hedge as other businesses do: by diversifying their product lines, purchasing insurance at market rates, leveraging assets or maintaining cash reserves. For decades, federal policy has been training farmers to depend on government instead, and taxpayers have been picking up the tab.

Tweet of the Day:

@ChrisClaytonDTN House and Senate Ag leaders meet to push a farm bill or a disaster package, DTN Correspondent Jerry Hagstrom reports.

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