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"Oversight of Direct Payments is Weak"

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

A new Government Accountability Office report released today finds a host of major problems with federal direct payment farm subsidies, including:

  • Direct payments do not appropriately distribute benefits consistent with contemporary assessments of need.
  • Direct payments may no longer be affordable given the United States’ current deficit and debt levels.
  • Direct payments may have unintended consequences.
  • Oversight of direct payments is weak.

Environmental Working Group agrees with GAO’s findings on all counts. The topic of oversight is particularly timely as 2012 farm bill proposals gravitate away from direct payments and toward more taxpayer-subsidized crop and revenue insurance – payments that have no accountability or transparency.

Though taxpayers deserve to know exactly who is benefiting from the agriculture programs they fund, it’s not a notion readily accepted by farm lobbyists. As a Washington Post editorial noted on June 20, “if there’s anything the farm lobby dislikes more than losing its subsidies, it’s letting the public follow its money.”

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The Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune reports that a recent massive dust storm was “partially the result of an increase in exposed cropland in the region.”

According to U.S. Department of Agriculture data, “The number of acres of cultivated cropland in the central sands region increased by almost 42 percent from 2005 to 2011.”

The increasing pressure on the land puts further emphasis on the need for restoring conservation compliance provisions in the 2012 farm bill to reduce farm runoff and soil erosion.

Table Scraps:

Politico’s David Rogers examines the political implications for House agriculture leaders who want to make steeper cuts to federal nutrition programs in the 2012 farm bill.

The Hill details escalating pressure from farm lobbyists on Capitol Hill as the House agriculture committee finalizes its version of the 2012 farm bill.

The Addison County Independent discusses the potential impacts of cuts to nutrition assistance funding for low-income families in Vermont.

Tweet of the Day:

??@influencealley Farm-Bill Battle Looks Like Fun-House Mirror Reflection http://njour.nl/OhHXjv

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