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Another Chance to Rein In Unlimited, Secret Crop Insurance Subsidies

Another Chance to Rein In Unlimited, Secret Crop Insurance Subsidies

Thursday, June 26, 2014


When U.S. Department of Agriculture’s annual spending bill comes up for action again in the House and Senate next month, Congress may finally get a chance to rein in unlimited, secret subsidies to some of the nation’s largest farm businesses.

Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wis.) and Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) hope to offer amendments to require USDA to disclose the names of farmers who collect crop insurance subsidies and to trim the premium subsidies paid to the largest and most successful farming operations.

Under current law, USDA is prohibited from disclosing which growers receive crop insurance subsidies – including billionaires and even members of Congress.

What’s more, there are no limits on the size of crop insurance subsidies or which farms can receive them. As a result, more than 10,000 farm businesses annually receive more than $100,000 each in premium subsidies, and some receive more than $1 million each.

Rep. Kind will offer an amendment directing USDA to disclose the names of crop insurance subsidy recipients. House leaders refused to allow consideration of a similar amendment during floor debate on the 2014 farm bill, but a broader crop insurance amendment offered by Kind was only narrowly defeated.

Sen. Flake will offer an amendment to modestly reduce subsidies for farm businesses that have more than $750,000 a year in adjusted gross income. During consideration of the 2014 farm bill, the Senate twice approved that amendment, which was offered by Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.). But conference committee negotiators reconciling the House and Senate versions dropped this provision in the final farm bill.

Although only one-quarter of one percent of farmers would be affected by this limitation, the Flake amendment would generate almost $100 million in savings.


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