By John Crabtree, email@example.com, Center for Rural Affairs
Over the last month, the leadership of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees pressed to finish a farm bill proposal that would cut 23 billion dollars over the next decade out of the USDA budget, through the Congressional Super Committee deficit reduction process, which must conclude by November 23rd. Fortunately, the Ag Committee proposal was never forthcoming. Rural America can breathe a collective sigh of relief that this proposal died on the vine. It was not worthy of advancing.
Farm spending will be cut in the next Farm Bill. The question is how? The farm bill that Agriculture Committee leadership intended to propose represents the worst aspects of federal policy, increasing subsidies for the rich and powerful and slashing investment in creating jobs and economic opportunities. The proposal left the growing cost of crop insurance subsidies to mega-farms unchecked. If one corporation farmed an entire state, the federal government would pay 60% of its crop insurance premiums on every acre in every year – the better the year, the bigger the subsidy. Moreover, small business, small town and rural community development would have been cut to less than one-tenth of the average of the last two farm bills.
This farm bill deserved to die. We can do better than this. We should put real limits on farm and crop insurance subsidies and use the savings to reduce the deficit while preserving investments in creating new farms, ranches, small businesses and the jobs that go with them.