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Policy Plate BLOG

Your daily serving of food and farm policy.

The Latest from Policy Plate

Friday, March 23, 2012

The most troubling news this week was a report from Stephanie Paige Obgurn of High Country News, which took a comprehensive look at the alarming conversion of native prairie grassland to intensive row cropping (subscription required).

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Senators Tim Johnson (D-SoDak.) and Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) continue their quest to steer farm program money into the hands of struggling ranchers and farmers who actually need government support. Yesterday they introduced new legislation to place hard caps on farm subsidy payments and close loopholes.

Key Issues: 
Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Yesterday, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), chairman of the House Budget Committee, proposed to cut $30 billion from federal farm subsidy programs, targeting the discredited direct payment program that sends checks out every year regardless of need.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The chairman of the House Budget Committee Chairman, Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), is proposing to cut $5 billion a year from the farm subsidies commonly referred to as “direct payments” and an additional $30 billion over 10 years from the heavily subsidized federal crop insurance programs.

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Marin Independent Journal has published an in-depth interview with Environmental Working Group president Ken Cook about the upcoming farm  bill.

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Friday, March 16, 2012

The Environment Working Group today released startling new research showing that companies owned by foreign insurance companies are paid billions in tax dollars through the U.S. crop insurance program. Most of the testimony from farm groups in yesterday’s Senate farm bill hearing centered on the heavily subsidized crop insurance program.

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Thursday, March 15, 2012

The highlight of the Senate Agriculture committee’s hearing on farm subsidies and crop insurance was when Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) asked  Michael Scuse, the Acting Undersecretary For Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services at the U.S. Department of Agriculture whether he considered people who participate in only two farming-related conference calls per year to be actively-engaged farmers.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Yesterday the Congressional Budget Office released its estimates of farm bill program spending over the next ten years. The Hagstrom Report, a by-subscription news service, caught up with Jim Miller, a top aide to Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), who said the rising cost of crop insurance – $11 billion over ten years  –was due to “both to the value of crops and timing shifts stemming from decisions made in the 2008 farm bill.”

Key Issues: 
Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Critics of the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (previously known as food stamps) have been using recent news stories of lottery winners getting SNAP benefits to demonize the program, despite its very low instance of fraud. These attacks come when more than 40 million Americans – half of them children – rely on food stamps to get through a brutal recession.

Monday, March 12, 2012

News on conservation problems that we currently face.

Key Issues: 
Friday, March 9, 2012

This week, a handful of big city mayors sent a letter to the House and Senate Agriculture Committee leaders urging them to support healthy and local food initiatives.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The National Farmers Union just voted at its annual meeting to support asking farmers to limit soil erosion and protect wetlands in return for generous premium subsidies. Those subsidies cost taxpayers $7.4 billion in 2011.

Key Issues: 
Wednesday, March 7, 2012

At today’s hearing of the Senate Agriculture Committee, devoted to Healthy Food Initiatives, Local Production, and Nutrition, Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan) said: "Whether a Kansas farmer is growing wheat that will be made into bread in a Kansas bakery, or selling Georgia peaches to schools through a food hub in Atlanta, local food systems mean a win-win for agriculture and the local economy."

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Farmers can produce far more than the world’s food and fiber — they can also contribute to the enormous task of keeping our drinking water clean and our streams healthy.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan of the U.S. Department of Agriculture continued the national conversation about USDA’s support for local and regional food projects with a live streaming event today and tweet-up at the White House. Local and regional food systems offer economic opportunities for local farmers, ranchers and food entrepreneurs. 

Friday, March 2, 2012

At this week’s Senate Agriculture Committee hearing, Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) made his case for protecting the Conservation Title in the next farm bill.

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Thursday, March 1, 2012

Multiple agriculture articles, including jobs, food safety, food stamps, subsidies and a grower trade show.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack and Undersecretary Katherine Merrigan today unveiled the new Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Compass. The online tool aims to spur ideas on how to generate more local and regional food resources and offers examples of local producers benefiting from the program, which got underway two years ago.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Today was the day the Senate Ag Committee held its hearing on conservation provisions of the evolving 2012 farm bill. The general sentiment of the witnesses and members of the committee was that conservation programs work to protect the environment, and that farmers like them. Fears of another round of funding cuts were evident, however.

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Monday, February 27, 2012

Today, Environmental Working Group released a new research paper by conservationist Max Schnepf that looks at the history of America’s eroding conservation compact and how farmers view the long-standing deal between them and taxpayers.

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