The Case for Farm Subsidy Reform

The Case for Farm Subsidy Reform

Unlimited crop insurance subsidies now cost the taxpayer $9 billion a year and overwhelmingly flow to the largest and most successful farm businesses. Unlike other farm subsidies, crop insurance subsidies are not subject to means testing or payment limits and farmers are not required to adopt basic environmental protections in exchange for premium support from the taxpayer. While some farms annually collect more than $1 million in crop insurance premium support, the bottom 80% of policyholders annually collect about $5,000.


Friday, February 6, 2015

A new report shows that some farmers could receive larger payments under newly implemented crop insurance programs than they would have through the discredited -- and now defunct -- direct payments system.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Big agriculture payouts could be coming, courtesy of American taxpayers, who are forking over money through lavish new subsidy programs established in the recently passed farm bill.

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.

Friday, January 31, 2014

The farm bill that passed the House this week and will likely pass the Senate next week has some positive features, including new conservation requirements for farm businesses that collect crop insurance subsidies and more funding for local and organic farmers. But those important provisions are outweighed by new, expanded and largely unlimited subsidies that do too much to help the largest and most successful farm operations at the expense of family farmers and the environment.

Monday, January 27, 2014

EWG’s editors asked the entire staff to pick the top agriculture-related stories of 2013, a category that includes the farm bill, farm subsidies, crop insurance, conservation, genetically engineered crops and food and several other related topics.

Friday, January 24, 2014

If the crop insurance proposals in the 2013 farm bill, including STAX, are enacted and their costs are as high as some expect, the United States could be in serious jeopardy of violating WTO trade commitments once again.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

There has long been bipartisan support for conservation compliance by farmers and politicians alike. Now more than ever, those leading the way in reauthorizing the farm bill may hear a growing number of prominent Republicans voicing their support to relink to crop insurance the vital conservation compact between taxpayers and farmers.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

EWG’s latest analysis of billionaires who reaped federal farm dollars seems to have hit a nerve with folks who – unsurprisingly – benefit from these same government handouts.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Reducing subsidies to large farm businesses, crop insurance companies and their agents, and trimming their windfall profits could generate enormous savings, EWG has found.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Many counties where federal crop insurance subsidies rose between 2008 and 2012 also had an increase in poverty over that period, a finding that undermines the oft-repeated arguments that farm subsidies help reduce rural poverty, an Environmental Working Group analysis shows.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

As the cost of crop insurance has ballooned – from less than $500 million a year in the 1990s to more than $14 billion in 2012[1] – the program’s most ardent defenders keep repeating the same mantra: Crop insurance is better than budget-busting ad hoc disaster programs.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Seven U.S. senators last week called for re-linking the federal crop insurance program to conservation compliance during a House-Senate conference committee meeting on the 2013 farm bill. The ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee also endorsed the linkage.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Check out the outrageous stats on their cards below to learn more about America’s Subsidy All Stars. And to see which ones are catching subsidies on a field near you, explore EWG’s map of subsidy millionaires the whopping 174 counties where these 26 All Stars have home field advantage.

Friday, November 1, 2013

“Subsidy millionaires” are not your typical family farmers. They are individuals who each year collect more than $1 million each in crop insurance subsidies from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Doesn’t it make sense to subject some of the richest farmers to a means test when they seek federal subsidies to pay for their crop insurance?

News Releases

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Environmental Working Group (EWG) released the following statement in response to the passage of the farm bill in the Senate.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The bill produced by the farm bill conference committee falls far short of the reforms needed to create a federal food and agricultural policy that can meet the challenges of the 21st century, the Environmental Working Group said today.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

A new report commissioned by Environmental Working Group finds that the heavily subsidized crop insurance program over-compensated Corn Belt farmers by $7.8 billion during the 2012 drought and lays out ways to cut wasteful spending.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

At least 50 billionaires or farm businesses in which they had a financial interest benefited from $11.3 million in traditional farm subsidies between 1995 and 2012, according to a new analysis released today by the Environmental Working Group (EWG). Congress, meanwhile, has proposed changes to the federal farm bill that could well increase their haul of taxpayer dollars.

Friday, October 25, 2013

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) sent a letter to members of the 2013 Farm Bill conference committee today demanding a farm bill that reforms crop insurance and strengthens environmental protections.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Environmental Working Group (EWG) released the following statement in response to the sense of the House resolution passed by the U.S. House of Representative to instruct the farm bill conference committee to accept a Senate provision that would reduce crop insurance premium subsidies to farm operators annually earning more than $750,000 in adjusted gross income.

Monday, July 29, 2013

A new report by the Government Accountability Office, which shows crop insurance subsidies going to deceased policyholders, underscores the need to reform the federal crop insurance program, the Environmental Working Group said in a statement. 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

“House Republicans voted today for a ‘farm only’ farm bill that expands crop insurance subsidies for the most successful farm businesses and fails to renew programs that help feed the nation’s hungriest children,” Environmental Working Group said in a statement.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

It is unconscionable that House leaders have put forward a farm bill that provides unlimited subsidies to the largest and most successful farm businesses and guts programs to help the environment.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

A new analysis commissioned by the Environmental Working Group debunks the myth that federally-subsidized crop insurance will save taxpayers money and protect farmers from crippling losses when natural disasters occur.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Environmental Working Group held a media briefing with Dr. Bruce Babock of Iowa State University to discuss the 2012 drought and its implication for the federal crop insurance program.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

A new analysis of over a million government records never before made public and obtained by the Environmental Working Group through the Freedom of Information Act has found that in 2011 more than 10,000 individual farming operations have received federal crop insurance premium subsidies ranging from $100,000 to more than $1 million apiece. Some 26 farming operations received subsidies of $1 million or more last year.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Twenty insurance companies in Bermuda, Japan, Switzerland, Australia, Canada and the U.S. were paid $7.1 billion in U.S. taxpayer funds from 2007 to 2011 to sell American farmers crop insurance policies, an Environmental Working Group analysis shows.

Reports & Consumer Guides

Congress could dramatically cut spending on the federal crop insurance program without sacrificing anything other than the political objective of propping up a crop insurance industry that only exists because of taxpayer support. Cutting this spending would not necessarily mean providing farmers with less money, because the freed-up funds could be spent on programs that benefit both farmers and the public.
The federal government paid out $11.3 million in taxpayer-funded farm subsidies to 50 billionaires or farm businesses in which they had an interest between 1995 and 2012, and changes to the farm bill being weighed by Congress could well increase their take.
Millions of Acres of Wetlands and Fragile Land Go Under the Plow
Across America’s heartland, in county after county and state after state, the landscape-devouring machinery of modern agriculture has been churning through millions of acres of irreplaceable wetlands and fragile, highly erodible grassland and prairie.
Spring Storms Batter Poorly Protected Soil and Streams
Media attention has understandably focused on flooding, especially given the devastating floods that have repeatedly struck the region in recent years.This year, it looks as if the Midwest will dodge the bullet – flooding has been damaging and heart-breaking for those affected, but nothing yet has resembled the scope and devastation of the 1993 and 2008 floods. But the Corn Belt’s rich soil and streams, especially in Iowa, haven’t been as lucky. The storms that pushed streams and rivers out of their banks have battered largely unprotected cropland soils throughout the region, sending tons of mud and farm chemicals into road ditches and streams across the heartland.
There were two reasons that Environmental Working Group commissioned agricultural economist Bruce Babcock of Iowa State University to analyze how the heavily subsidized federal crop insurance program performed during the Corn Belt drought of 2012. The 2012 drought drastically cut crop yields across several states and Congress is about to take up the farm bill again under serious pressure to cut spending.
How Crop Subsidies Contribute to Massive Habitat Losses
High crop prices and unlimited crop insurance subsidies contributed to the loss of more than 23 million acres of grassland, shrub land and wetlands between 2008 and 2011, wiping out habitat that sustains many species of birds and other animals and threatening the diversity of North America’s wildlife, new research by Environmental Working Group and Defenders of Wildlife shows.
Crop Insurance Premium Subsidies
View and Download the report here: Impact of Scaling Back Crop Insurance Premium Subsidies
Free Crop Insurance Can Save Money and Strengthen the Farm Safety Net
View and Download the report here: Giving it Away Free A simple, free program to insure farmers against actual crop losses at full market price would be cheaper and fairer than today’s hopelessly inefficient and costly system.
Starting in the 1930s, U.S. farm programs focused on reducing crop surpluses and sending checks to farmers when crop prices fell.