Policy Plate: Drought is No Excuse for Lack of Farm Bill Reform
The drought hammering farmers and communities across the Corn Belt is being used by some as an excuse to send “the worst farm bill in recent memory” to the floor of the House of Representatives. Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio.) addressed those calls today, saying (mp3):
“Well there’s no question that there’s a real threat throughout the Midwest because of the dry conditions. Most farmers in my district avail themselves of crop insurance. That’s why it is in the farm bill, that’s why our government subsidizes the cost of crop insurance, to encourage farmers to buy that. In most cases it should be sufficient to deal with this problem.”
As the Omaha World Herald reported, even if the farm bill expires at the end of September, the subsidized crop insurance program will remain in place.
Today, Environmental Working Group hosted a media briefing featuring Professor Bruce Babcock of Iowa State University to call for crop insurance reform in light of the ongoing drought.
Click here to watch the full briefing.
“There is no need for Congress to take reform of crop insurance off the table and jam through flawed legislation. If the farm bill isn’t passed, the crop insurance program will still be there to help out farmers affected by the drought,” said Craig Cox, EWG’s senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources.
Farm bill reform leader Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), is circulating a letter to urge his House colleagues “to oppose this bill and support policies that protect taxpayer dollars, honor the hard work done by American farmers, defend the environment, and support low income Americans.” As Rep. Blumenauer points out, the House farm bill “uses most of the savings from eliminating direct payments to create a new, potentially more expensive series of government programs.”
A report by the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress suggests several improvements to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to encourage healthier eating. There’s more information about the report on the project’s website.
Tom Philpott writes for Mother Jones on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s plan to approve a new, genetically engineered soybean seed created by Dow AgroSciences. This strand of soybean is designed to be resistant to an infamous chemical ingredient to Agent Orange.
An editorial in The Des Moines Register is dead on in discussing pollution from industrial agriculture: “Politicians don’t want to stand up to the powerful farm lobby by adequately regulating operators and requiring them to be good stewards of the environment.”
The Tennessean unravels the regional and party politics that come into play in drafting the farm bill and how the ongoing drought will be a factor in debate.
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