WASHINGTON – Scott Faber, vice president of government affairs for the Environmental Working Group, issued the following statement today on the Senate version of the farm bill:
The bipartisan farm bill released today by the Senate Agriculture Committee is a sharp contrast to the terrible, partisan farm bill proposed by the House.
Unlike the partisan House bill, the bipartisan Senate bill preserves funding for anti-hunger, conservation, and energy programs. It also provides new mandatory funding for programs that link farmers with local consumers and that support organic farmers. Although far more conservation spending is needed to address the health impacts posed by farm pollution, the Senate bill includes important reforms that will better target and leverage conservation programs to protect sources of drinking water.
In addition, the Senate bill, unlike the House bill, does not create new loopholes that would allow farm subsidies to flow to billionaires or distant relatives of farmers. However, the Senate bill does not go nearly far enough to rein in farm subsidy programs. Although the Senate bill modestly tightens an existing means test for some subsidies, the bill does nothing to guarantee that farm subsidies only flow to farmers who live and work on the farm. Nor does the Senate bill cap or create a means test for unlimited crop insurance subsidies, or rein in subsidies to insurance agents and companies.
Once again, it will be up to reform champions to ensure that farm subsidies are a safety net, not a handout.