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More Editorials Slam Senate Farm Bill

Monday, June 11, 2012

Editorial boards across the country continue deriding the lack of meaningful reform in the Senate farm bill. The Washington Post weighed in today in an editorial called, “Fertile ground for change.” Some excerpts:

The bill’s savings would have been almost twice as great if it did not offset the elimination of direct payments with a new, subsidized crop insurance program on top of the generous one from which farmers already benefit.

Excessive crop insurance encourages farmers to plant marginal land, secure in the knowledge that they’ll be bailed out if it does not produce.

But no business is entitled to risk-free revenue at taxpayer expense. Lavish crop insurance is neither morally nor economically justifiable, especially at a time when agriculture is financially stronger than ever.

The Kansas City Star editorialized:

Keep in mind that farm income is already at or close to record highs. At some point, one would think that even members of Congress would understand that subsidized farming on marginal land is a waste of tax dollars.

The ecological damage resulting from such a policy is likely to be considerable. Beefed up crop insurance will mean the loss of more grassland and native prairie to the plow — which might make sense if the point were to raise more food. But encouraging farmers to plant unproductive acreage merely to collect subsidies is inexcusable.

The Las Vegas Review Journal asserts, “Nevadans lose as crop insurance subsidies grow”

Reforming agricultural policy, meanwhile, resembles a shell game. The biggest giveaways used to be commodity payments, primarily to those growing cotton, soybeans, corn, rice and wheat. A farm bill under debate in Washington does, at least, restrict such payments to real farmers - screening out absentee investors - while adding a per-farm limit. But squash the balloon here, and it inflates over there. No restrictions limit crop insurance subsidies, which have overtaken commodity payments in expense.

Table Scraps:

-       EWG’s Scott Faber and Craig Cox make a compelling case for crop insurance subsidy reform.

-       Over the weekend, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) endorsed attaching conservation compliance to crop insurance and making public the names and amounts of crop insurance subsidy recipients.

-       San Francisco Chronicle columnist Debra Saunders writes, “Goodbye, direct payments. Hello, new crop insurance subsidy.”

-       Progressive Farmer editor Chris Clayton says to “Expect a Floor Fight on AGI and Premium Subsidies.”

-       Argus Leader reporter Cody Winchester takes a deep look at the checks the agriculture lobby writes to members of the agriculture committees.

Tweet of the day:

@Sherman_Alexie More folks would support gov't social programs if they experienced the pain of being a poor child.

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