Policy Plate: An Unconscionable and Grotesque Farm Bill
EWG and groups including the Humane Society of the United States, Natural Resources Defense Council, Bread for the World, the Center for Food Safety, Defenders of Wildlife, Oxfam America, United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine plan a press conference for Tuesday, July 17, at the National Press Club to discuss the alarming and damaging provisions in the House Agriculture Committee's farm bill.
Two of America’s leading newspapers editorialized on the House Agriculture Committee’s version of the farm bill. The New York Times said of the bill:
The House Agriculture Committee has approved an unconscionable farm bill that protects grossly generous subsidies for the agriculture industry by cutting food stamps by a staggering $16.5 billion over the next decade.
While the Washington Post opined:
But to slash a couple of million recipients from the rolls — the CBO’s estimate of the House bill’s impact — under current economic conditions strikes us as draconian. To do so while extending billions of dollars in taxpayer funding to rural businesses that should have been weaned off the federal teat long ago is grotesque.
And a farm bill amendment by Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa.) continues to draw scorn for its subversion of states’ rights. The San Francisco Chronicle’s Caroline Lochhead quotes a Petaluma egg farmer on the King amendment:
"California also has pesticide laws for fruits and vegetables. They're gone. California has its own standards for fluid milk (requiring fortification with Vitamin D). They're gone."
While in The Hill, Wayne Pacelle, head of the Humane Society of the United States, said:
“It’s hard to overstate how sweeping and far-reaching the King amendment is. I think lawmakers on the committee had no benefit of preparation for the surprise offering.”
Think Progress makes the broader point:
So King appears to think federal regulation of farming is constitutional, but regulation of the health care industry is not. A state ban on birth control is fine, but banning foie gras isn’t.
In an Agmag post, EWG Chief of Staff Heather White writes:
The serious constitutional questions it raises might very well bring the entire farm bill legislative process to a halt.
Farm and Food File columnist Alan Guebert has a blistering take on what the worsening Midwest drought means for the subsidized crop insurance program. He writes: “That's right; only Congress could come up with a core farm and food policy tool, crop insurance, that doesn't insure crops and doesn't ensure adequate food stocks and then sell this “reform” as a “cost saving” in the year when, in fact, crop insurance payouts will demolish any and every record.”
Daryll Ray, director of the University of Tennessee’s Agricultural Policy Analysis Center writes about the potential for fraud scenarios in subsidized crop insurance. “What makes this use of crop/revenue insurance a moral hazard is that it takes a risk (crop failure) that is supposed to be random and makes crop/revenue insurance available, without a significantly unsubsidized premium and/or a very large deductible, to farmers trying to grow a crop on marginal ground where the chances of a crop failure are very high.”
According to an infographic from the Global Partnership for the Oceans, since 1960, farmers have used five times more nitrogen fertilizer. Fertilizer is “a huge source of ocean pollution,” according to the Partnership.
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