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After a decline in crop prices in 2014 and 2015, the U.S. Department of Agriculture boosted farmers' income by more than $13 billion through two newly enacted subsidy programs. But during the same period, another USDA program paid out nearly as much to “compensate” the same farmers for the same decline in prices. In all, this double-dipping cost American taxpayers almost $23.9 billion.
Mapping Cover Crops on Corn and Soybeans in Illinois, Indiana and Iowa, 2015-2016
Think U.S. Agriculture Will End World Hunger? Think Again.
The key to ending world hunger while protecting the environment is to help small farmers in the developing world increase their productivity and income.
A Lottery That’s a Sure Bet
The federal crop insurance program – now the primary way taxpayers support farm income – is coming under increased and well-deserved scrutiny because of its high cost, lack of transparency and environmental implications.
Voluntary Programs Fail to Clean Up Dirty Water
Drinking water, lakes and rivers in Iowa and across the Corn Belt are in serious trouble because of polluted farm runoff. To tackle the problem, for decades we’ve taken the approach favored by agricultural interests – making federal tax dollars available for conservation practices that curb runoff, encouraging farmers to adopt those practices, then hoping enough of them volunteer to do the right thing.
It Won’t Kill Crop Insurance
The cost to taxpayers of providing crop insurance to farmers has more than tripled since 2001, rising from an average of about $3 billion a year in 2001-2003 to more than $10 billion a year in 2012-2014. The increase is largely the result of sharp jumps in the cost of subsidizing both farmers’ premiums and the companies that sell crop insurance.
Cuts Won’t “Devastate” Crop Insurance
The congressional budget deal signed by President Obama in early November includes a cost-saving measure that trims the profits taxpayers guarantee the crop insurance industry. The guaranteed rate of return of these companies would drop from 14.5 percent to 8.9 percent, saving $3 billion over the next 10 years.
An Annual Disaster
When you buy home or car insurance, you expect to collect only when there’s a disaster – a tornado, a hailstorm or a collision. If there was a policy that paid out year after year, you only had to pay less than half of the premium and you’d actually make money from buying it, you’d jump at it – but the insurer would be foolish.
"Prevented Planting" Insurance Plows up Wetlands, Wastes $Billions
The so-called “prevented planting” component of the federal crop insurance program is wasting billions of dollars while encouraging growers to plow up wildlife-sustaining wetlands in the iconic Prairie Pothole Region of North and South Dakota.
Stream Buffer Rule = Cleaner Water, Little Cost
A study of five representative Iowa counties shows that requiring simple buffer zones between crop fields and streams could get two-thirds of the way to the state's goal for reducing phosphorus pollution and one-fifth of the way to the nitrogen pollution target, while affecting only a tiny proportion of landowners and a vanishingly small percentage of row-crop acreage.