Congress Considering New Farm Subsidy

In the midst of heated debates over farm subsidies and deficit reduction, Congress is currently considering a new farm crop insurance program. These programs could reduce government spending and waste, while guaranteeing incomes and protecting the agricultural industry.

Congress is currently in the midst of tense budget debates and has been charged with reducing the federal budget by nearly $2 trillion. At the top of the austerity hit list is farm spending. The congressional supercommittee, a bipartisan coalition of Democrats and Republicans, is already considering reducing farm spending by roughly $23 billion and is currently drafting a new Farm Bill that could remove direct subsidies and drastically alter crop insurance programs. The new insurance proposal represents an effort by farmers to limit the impact of federal austerity measures.

The proposed subsidy, a free insurance program, would kick in when crop prices drop below a certain level. This income insurance program would satisfy critics of direct payments who argue that expensive subsidies are wasteful in times of high crop prices.

However, this new proposal is not without critics. The planned program would kick in on top of paid insurance programs, essentially doubling farm payments. Some critics have argued that two insurance programs are wasteful, while others argue that the revenue threshold, currently planned at a 5 to 10 percent drop, is too low.

According to a report by the Environmental Working Group, an advocacy group that has long opposed farm subsidies, “The only rationale for a new federal revenue-guarantee program on top of existing revenue insurance programs is that it seems politically easier to defend than direct payments.”

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer