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Historic Amendment Sets Stage for More Crop Insurance Reform

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Thanks to the leadership of Senators Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), the Senate today (May 23) passed a truly historic amendment to the Senate farm bill.

Approved by a 2-to-1 margin, the amendment to cut crop insurance premium subsidies for largest and most successful farm businesses will level the playing field and protect taxpayers and the environment.

In particular, the amendment will reduce crop insurance premium subsidies by 15 percent for farm businesses that earn more than $750,000 a year in profits from farming.

Under current law, there are no limits on crop insurance subsidies. As a result, some farm businesses receive more than $1 million apiece in premium subsidies each year, and more than 10,000 receive more than $100,000 apiece.

While the Coburn-Durbin amendment will only reduce subsidies for the largest farms, the amendment sets the stage for more reforms when Congress returns from its upcoming recess.

In particular, the Senate will have the chance to consider an amendment to cap premiums at $50,000 per farmer – the same limits the Senate farm bill applies to other subsidy programs. Other amendments would end windfall profits and improve transparency.

While historic, today’s vote to subject crop insurance subsidies to means testing for the first time merely sets the stage for other essential reforms. 

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