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AgMag BLOG

Feeding your mind, saving the planet >>

Should Foxes Build the Hen House?

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Both the House and Senate overwhelmingly have voted for farm subsidy reform. The Senate twice voted to subject recipients of crop insurance subsidies to a modest means test, and the House passed a resolution supporting the same proposal. And polls show that Americans overwhelmingly support reasonable limits on farm subsidies.  Even rural voters think too many subsidies go to big farmers.

So, deciding whether to incorporate subsidy reform in the final farm bill should be simple for members of the Congressional conference committee who will be trying to hammer out a final farm bill, right? It’s not so simple. That’s because many of the legislators who will decide the fate of farm subsidies when the “conference” convenes for the first time today not only represent states and districts that collect the lion’s share of the loot.  They also get some of it themselves.

Of the 10 Congressional districts receiving the largest share of traditional farm subsidies such as counter-cyclical payments, five will be represented by farm bill conferees: Reps. Steve King (R-Iowa), Kristi Noem (R-S.D.), Rick Crawford (R-Ark), Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas) and Colin Peterson (D-Minn.), according to EWG’s Farm Subsidy Database. Farmers from these five districts (one-tenth of one percent of all Congressional districts) collected more than 15 percent of all farm subsidies between 1995 and 2012.  That’s a lot of loot.

Farm Subsidies By District (Excluding Crop Insurance Subsidies)

 

U.S. House Representative

Farm subsidies
(1995-2012)
billions

Percent of total
subsidies

1

Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D)

$10.4

3.5%

2

Rep. Adrian Smith (R-Neb.)

$9.9

3.4%

3

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa)

$9.2

3.1%

4

Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.)

$9.1

3.1%

5

Rep. Kristi  Noem (R-S.D.)

$7.8

2.7%

6

Rep. Rick Crawford (R-Ark.)

$7.8

2.7%

7

Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas)

$7.2

2.5%

8

Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.)

$6.9

2.4%

9

Rep. Steve Daines (R-Mont.)

$5.7

1.9%

10

Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.)

$4.8

1.6%

 

All other districts combined

$225.9

73.1%

Source: http://farm.ewg.org/progdetail.php?fips=00000&progcode=total&page=district&regionname=theUnitedStates

While we do not know the names of those who get crop insurance subsidies – because past farm bill conferees have kept this important information secret – many of the individuals who collect the largest premium subsidies are in these districts. There are policyholders in districts represented by conferees Kristi Noem, Colin Peterson, Tim Walz and Filemon Vela who received more than $1 million each in premium support in 2011. Nationally, 26 policyholders received more than $1 million, and more than 10,000 received more than $100,000. By contrast, those in the bottom 80 percent of crop insurance subsidy recipients each collect about $5,000 a year.

It should be no surprise that many House conferees voted for the “farm-only” farm bill (which increases unlimited crop insurance subsidies), voted for the “SNAP-only” nutrition bill (which cuts feeding assistance for very poor Americans) and voted against reasonable subsidy reforms.

Farm Bill Conferee Voting Records

House conferees
 

Vote on "SNAP only" H.R. 3102 (passed 217 - 210)

Vote on "farm only" H.R. 2642 (passed 216 - 208

Vote on crop insurance reform amendment to
H.R. 1947  (lost 208 - 217)

Vote on commodity payment cap of $250k/yr amendment to
H.R. 1947 (passed 230 - 194)

Total commodity subsidies in Congressional district
(1995 - 2012)

Crop insurance policy holders receiving more than $100,000 in premium subsidies (2011)

Rep. Michael Conaway
(R-Texas)

Yea

Yea

Nay

Nay

$1.26 billion

441

Rep. Jim Costa
(D-Calif.)

Nay

Nay

Nay

Nay

$619 million

103

Rep. Rick Crawford
(R-Ark.)

Yea

Yea

Nay

Nay

$7.3 billion

131

Rep. Rodney Davis
(R-Ill.)

Yea

Yea

Nay

Nay

$1.68 billion

238

Rep. Suzan DelBene
(D-Wash.)

Nay

Nay

Nay

Yea

$48.4 million

0

Rep. Jeff Denham
(R-Calif.)

Nay

Yea

Nay

Nay

$135 million

37

Rep. Marcia Fudge
(D-Ohio)

Nay

Nay

Yea

Yea

$122,000

0

Rep. Steve King
(R-Iowa)

Yea

Yea

Nay

Yea

$8.06 billion

349

Rep. Frank Lucas
(R-Okla.)

Yea

Yea

Nay

Nay

$2.75 billion

189

Rep. Jim McGovern
(D-Mass.)

Nay

Nay

Yea

Yea

$11.8 million

0

Rep. Mike McIntyre
(D-N.C.)

Nay

Nay

Nay

Nay

$599 million

116

Rep. Gloria Negrete McLeod
(D-Calif.) 

Nay

NV

Nay

Nay

$23.7 million

0

Rep. Randy Neugebauer
(R-Texas)

Yea

Yea

Nay

Nay

$5.7 billion

645

Rep. Kristi Noem
(R-S.D.)

Yea

Yea

Nay

Yea

$5.62 billion

1,910

Rep. Collin Peterson
(D-Minn.)

Nay

Nay

Nay

Nay

$5.13 billion

885

Rep. Martha Roby
(R-Ala.)

Yea

Yea

Nay

Nay

$739 million

109

Rep. Mike Rogers
(R-Ala.)

Yea

Yea

Nay

Nay

$114 million

10

Rep. Kurt Schrader
(D-Ore.)

Nay

Nay

Yea

Nay

$67.5 million

4

Rep. Austin Scott
(R-Ga.)

Yea

Yea

Nay

Nay

$1.53 billion

103

Rep. Steve Southerland
(R-Fla.)

Yea

Yea

Nay

Nay

$156 million

36

Rep. Glenn Thompson
(R-Pa.)

Yea

Yea

Nay

Nay

$108 million

1

Rep. Filemon Vela
(D-Texas)

Nay

Nay

Nay

Nay

$662 million

85

Rep. Tim Walz
(D-Minn.)

Nay

Nay

Nay

Nay

$3.62 billion

189

But it might surprise you to learn that it's not just wealthy constituents of these House members who stand to benefit from subsidies. At least three conferees stand to benefit personally, including House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.). Lucas' wife Lynda received agricultural disaster relief payments in 2012. Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas), also a conferee, and Rep. Kristi Noem (R- S.D.) both collect subsidies. Noem received $1,400 in direct payments in 2012 and has banked $503,751 in all since 1995.

Should members who personally benefit from farm subsidies be participating – or, in the case of Chairman Lucas, running – the farm bill conference committee?