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Policy Plate BLOG

Your daily serving of food and farm policy.

The Latest from Policy Plate

Thursday, July 26, 2012

A House proposal to extend the 2008 farm bill by one year is a repudiation of the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2012 (FARRM) produced by the House Agriculture Committee and would deny the full House the opportunity to debate meaningful and long-overdue reform of crop insurance subsidies.

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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

As the Des Moines Register reports Iowa State University economics professor Bruce Babcock appeared on the show to talk about the Midwest’s historic drought, but the conversation turned to crop insurance.

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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Crop farmers are going to be OK coming out of the current drought – but not taxpayers, economist Bruce Babcock of Iowa State University says in a National Public Radio interview.

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Monday, July 23, 2012

An article by Marcia Zarley Taylor in DTN/The Progressive Farmer reveals how far the crop insurance program has strayed from its origins as a fiscally responsible safety net for farmers. Most farmers in the corn belt, covered by new so-called revenue protection insurance polices, stand to make more money this year – thanks to taxpayers – than they would have if they hadn’t lost crops because of the drought.

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Friday, July 20, 2012

Some members of Congress appear eager to jam through a costly drought disaster relief program with a flawed farm bill. In an AgMag post entitled “Bad Ideas Spring from Drought,” Environmental Working Group’s Scott Faber points out that Congress has already provided farmers with a gold-plated disaster program called crop insurance - and it will pay farmers indemnities regardless of whether Congress passes a farm bill.

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Thursday, July 19, 2012


The drought hammering farmers and communities across the Corn Belt is being used by some as an excuse to send “the worst farm bill in recent memory” to the floor of the House of Representatives. Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio.) addressed those calls today, saying (mp3): “Well there’s no question that there’s a real threat throughout the Midwest because of the dry conditions. Most farmers in my district avail themselves of crop insurance. That’s why it is in the farm bill, that’s why our government subsidizes the cost of crop insurance, to encourage farmers to buy that. In most cases it should be sufficient to deal with this problem.”

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Last week the House Ag Committee pushed through one of the worst pieces of food and farm legislation in recent history. While Ag leaders are pressing for the bill to come to the floor, Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wis.), is arguing that the bill “takes us backward in terms of budget-busting crop subsidies, unlimited insurance subsidies, and trade-distorting programs”

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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Today at the National Press Club, Environmental Working Group and a wide array of public interest organizations, including anti-hunger, public health, labor and animal welfare advocates – took part in a widely covered press conference to highlight the damaging and alarming provisions of the farm bill approved by the House Agriculture Committee.

Monday, July 16, 2012

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.

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Friday, July 13, 2012

The Los Angeles Times’ Kim Geiger reports that the amendment added by Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) to the House Agriculture Committee’s draft of the farm bill could "block states from imposing their own standards for agriculture products on producers from other states" and "jeopardize California laws to protect chickens."

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Thursday, July 12, 2012

In the early hours Thursday, the House Agriculture Committee marked up and passed a bill that is quite simply the worst piece of food and farm legislation in recent memory. In a statement released earlier today, Environmental Working Group’s Scott Faber said: "The committee’s farm bill increases unlimited subsidies for the largest and most profitable farm businesses. As millions of families struggle to put food on the table, the bill cuts funding for critical nutrition assistance programs by $16.1 billion."

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

As the House Agriculture Committee considered a proposal by Reps. Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) and Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) to expand crop insurance subsidies by more than $9 billion, Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) introduced legislation to instead roll back crop insurance subsidy rates.

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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

An Environmental Working Group AgMag post calls out the members of Congress who are expected to support unlimited insurance subsidies for corn and cotton farmers during the House Agriculture Committee mark up (that begins tomorrow) but voted against health insurance subsidies for low income Americans in 2009.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Eight members of Congress plan to hold a press conference with anti-hunger groups tomorrow (Tuesday) to protest the $16 billion in cuts to nutrition assistance programs proposed by the leaders of the House Agriculture Committee in their farm bill draft. Reps. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), Joe Baca (D-Calif.), Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio), Terri Sewell (D-Ala.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.) and Gwen Moore (D-Wis.) will take part.

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Friday, July 6, 2012

The farm bill proposed yesterday by House agriculture committee leaders would cut funds for nutrition programs and the environment to help finance new price and revenue guarantees and unlimited insurance subsidies for the largest and most successful farm businesses.

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Thursday, July 5, 2012

A story in the Minneapolis Star Tribune documents the ways that unlimited crop insurance subsidies are driving up the costs of farming and contributing to the loss of wetlands and grasslands.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

A new Government Accountability Office report released today finds a host of major problems with federal direct payment farm subsidies.

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Monday, July 2, 2012


Now that the Senate has passed a farm bill that ends direct payments to farmers, the pressure is on for the House to do the same. Trish Choate of the San Angelo Standard-Times uses the 2012 EWG Farm Subsidy Database to explain the federal handout system in Texas, the state that receives the most farm subsidies.

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Friday, June 29, 2012

Environmental Working Group’s latest update of the farm subsidy database shows that Iowa grain producers are still reaping big benefits from taxpayers.  The Cedar Rapids Gazette reports that the Hawkeye State “ranks second in the nation in terms of farm subsidies, with 8.7 percent of the total in 2011.”

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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Environmental Working Group’s latest update of the EWG farm subsidy database shows that farm subsidies continue to benefit the largest and most successful farm businesses and a handful of states and congressional districts.

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