Ahead of Farm Bill Markup, EWG Urges Senate to Back Grassley’s Subsidy Reform Efforts

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For Immediate Release: 
Monday, June 11, 2018

WASHINGTON – On Wednesday, Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, will offer an amendment to the Senate farm bill that would tighten requirements for farm subsidies. The Environmental Working Group urged support for Grassley’s proposal, saying subsidies should be a safety net, not a handout.

“Americans support providing farmers with the tools they need to manage the ups and down of agriculture,” said Scott Faber, EWG’s senior vice president for government affairs. “But farm subsidies should only flow to farmers who need help, and who actually live and work on the farm.” 

Faber and Grassley spoke Monday at a discussion sponsored by the Heritage Foundation.

In contrast to Grassley’s proposal to tighten requirements for farmers to receive subsidies, the House Republican farm bill would extend annual payments up to $125,000 to cousins, nieces and nephews of current subsidy recipients. For this reason, EWG and other public interest groups have dubbed the House bill the 23andMe bill.

“We applaud Sen. Grassley for his common-sense proposal that would continue to help farmers who need it, while saving scarce taxpayer money,” Faber said. “The Senate Agriculture Committee should support Grassley’s amendment, and the full Senate must be allowed to debate other amendments to reform our broken farm subsidy system.”

A recent EWG analysis of USDA data found that nearly 28,000 farmers received a subsidy or disaster payment every year for the last 32 years, totaling more than $19 billion.

“Either there are some very unlucky farmers out there, or our farm safety net is reverse engineered to pay out every year,” Faber added. “If that’s the case, our farm safety net is not a safety net. It’s a handout.”

Faber joined Grassley; Daren Baskt, senior research fellow in agriculture policy for the Heritage Foundation; and Joshua Sewell, senior policy analyst for Taxpayers for Common Sense at today’s event, which can be seen in its entirety here. 

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