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Farm Subsidies and Local Food

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Argus Leader of Sioux Falls, S.D  reported this morning that Sens. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa.) are making legislative efforts to curb government subsidies distributed inequitably to highly profitable mega farms. An excerpt:

Sen. Tim Johnson’s bill to limit federal farm subsidy payments might be the prelude to a far more ambitious effort to impose similar caps on the popular federal crop and revenue insurance programs.

“That would be a good conversation to have, wouldn’t it?” observed Doug Sombke, president of the South Dakota Farmers Union.....Taxpayers want family farms to stay in business, not large corporations.”

The story reported that the South Dakota Farm Bureau opposes “any effort to curtail subsidies.” Retiring Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) weighed in on the proposed bill in the Omaha World Herald, saying “With farm income booming and now our deficit far too large, the time has come to rein in these payments.”


Paul Barton of Gannett bureau in Washington reported that the Local Farms, Food and Jobs Act sponsored by Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) is meeting opposition from the American Farm Bureau.  Barton writes:

Despite the bill's relatively small price, it is opposed by the American Farm Bureau Federation. To help cut federal deficits, the organization is calling for all farm spending to take a hit in the next farm bill.

"We want to do our fair share," said Mary Kay Thatcher, lobbyist for the Farm Bureau.

But Ferd Hoefner, policy director at the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, said what the Farm Bureau is really concerned about is the precedent of taking money away from programs that support major commodity crops, such as corn, rice and soybeans.

It’s worth noting that the South Dakota farm bureau apparently does not agree with the national organization’s call for all farm spending to “take a hit.”

Table Scraps

-          Michigan Farm Bureau president Wayne Wood says crop insurance subsidies -- whose cost to the taxpayer has exploded in recent years -- allow him to “look you in the eye and tell you I don’t get a check to farm.”

-          Mercer University law professor David Oedel writes in the Macon, GA Telegraph: "We need to learn how to say no to the corporate farm lobby, and yes to the local farmers"

-          The American Enterprise Institute hails Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-Wisconsin) proposed farm subsidy cuts.

-          Grist’s Tom Laskawy examines farm bill timing.

Tweet of the day:

@MCJalonick @AP: APNewsBreak: 'Pink slime' maker halts some plants.

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