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Policy Plate BLOG

Your daily serving of food and farm policy.

The Latest from Policy Plate

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Environmental Working Group’s latest update of the EWG farm subsidy database shows that farm subsidies continue to benefit the largest and most successful farm businesses and a handful of states and congressional districts.

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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Environmental Working Group’s latest update of the EWG farm subsidy database shows that 23 members of Congress, or their family members, benefitted from $6,199,807 in taxpayer-funded farm subsidy payments between 1995 and 2011.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Environmental Working Group will host a press briefing tomorrow in Room 304 in the Cannon House Office Building at 1:00 p.m. (EST) for accredited journalists and congressional staffers to release its latest edition of its highly referenced farm subsidy database. The 2012 database tracks $277.3 billion in commodity, crop insurance, conservation, and disaster subsidies paid between 1995 and 2011.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

60 Minutes profile of Howard Buffett, who will succeed his father, Warren, as a non-executive chairman of a multibillion dollar holding company, reports that he has received $300,000 in farm subsidies over 13 years.

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Monday, June 25, 2012

Two newspaper editorials have applauded Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., for his successful efforts to add a conservation compliance amendment to the recently passed Senate farm bill. The proposal simply restores the conservation quid pro quo between taxpayers and farmers as crop insurance subsidies replace traditional farm payments.

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Friday, June 22, 2012

Today, the Environmental Working Group thanked 11 senators for leading the fight for true food and farm policy reform in the 2012 farm bill that passed in the Senate. These Senate champions displayed their leadership on issues that will impact consumers, improve the environment and reduce hunger.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Today, reported that the U.S. Department of Agriculture encountered significant shortcomings in dealing with fraud in the federal crop insurance program. It pointed out that the newly passed Senate farm bill would open the door for more fraud. The bill, which adds a new layer to the already bloated insurance program to guarantee business income for large farmers, does not have any government protections to prevent fraudulent claims. 

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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Environmental Working Group joined a politically diverse alliance of fiscal and environmental groups at the National Press Club today to highlight shortcomings in the 2012 Senate farm bill.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Environmental Working Group releases today an updated interactive map containing more than 550 pro-reform farm bill editorials -- nearly a 100 since the last farm bill. The newly added editorials call for significant reform to current food and agriculture policy in a way that is beneficial to family farmers, hungry children, taxpayers and the environment.

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Monday, June 18, 2012

The Food and Environment Reporting Network released an investigation into government subsidized crop insurance today at

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Friday, June 15, 2012

Gregory Meyer at the Financial Times has an explosive story (subscription required) on how big time money managers can’t get enough of the federal government’s revenue guarantees with crop insurance subsidies.

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Thursday, June 14, 2012

National leaders in food and farm policy have taken steps to form a new nonprofit organization that for the first time will hold lawmakers in Congress accountable for their votes on a broad range of issues, including food safety, farm subsidies, nutrition assistance, farm animal welfare, fisheries management, organic and local food, farm and food worker justice, and the impacts of food and farm policies on the environment.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Environmental Working Group released two eye-opening investigations today as the Senate farm bill teeters between passage and failure. The first is an exhaustive analysis of the crop insurance lobby and reveals why subsidizing crop insurance has been in such favor with Congress:

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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

NEW on the Environmental Working Group’s highly-regarded farm subsidy database (more than 350 million searches since 2004): crop insurance data.

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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."


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Friday, June 8, 2012


The New York Times’ Ron Nixon reports that the Obama administration wants to see deeper cuts to crop insurance as the farm bill debate goes forward: "The bill is expected to cost about $969 billion over the next 10 years, but cuts overall spending by $23 billion."

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Thursday, June 7, 2012

Sens. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., Dick Durbin, D-Ill.,  Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., and Pat Toomey, R-Pa., introduced amendments today that would save taxpayers billions of dollars and take important steps toward reforming the heavily subsidized federal crop insurance program.

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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Salt Lake City Tribune joined the growing list of newspapers casting scorn on the Senate Agriculture Committee’s 2012 farm bill. 

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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Environmental Working Group today released a letter signed by more than 70 American food and health leaders who urged Congress to cut crop insurance subsidies and redirect that money into vital investments in nutrition, healthy food and conservation programs. Signers include Michal Pollan, Bill McKibben, Marion Nestle and celebrity chefs Mario Batali, Tom Collichio, Alice Waters and Rick Bayless.

Monday, June 4, 2012

New York Times’ editorial board member Robert Semple penned a blistering take on the Senate farm bill for the paper’s Sunday Outlook section. Some excerpts: "Every five years or so, Congress promises a new, improved farm bill that will end unnecessary subsidies to big farmers, enhance the environment and actually do something to help small farmers and small towns."