Extreme Weather Demonstrates Need for Farm Safety Net

As the 2012 Farm Bill approaches, Senators and Representatives from both political parties have engaged in heated debate over the future of agriculture in America. One of the most controversial topics is subsidies for farmers. Many deficit hawks argue that the billions spent on farm subsidies and farm safety net programs could be better spent elsewhere, and both Democratic and Republican officials have hinted that they will try to strip farm funding from the upcoming Farm Bill and the next federal budget.

However, the recent string of extreme weather across the country has given some pause. Over the past few months, extreme weather, ranging from floods, to droughts, to usually heavy rain, has prevented farmers across the country from planting or harvesting crops, costing millions, potentially billions, of dollars in damage. Currently 32 states are under some kind of federal disaster declaration. In a speech to CropLife America policy conference, Senator Debbie Stabenow cited the extreme weather, stating “”If there was ever evidence that we need an effective farm safety net, this is it.”

In addition to Stabenow, Congressman Frank Lucas, Chair of the House Agriculture Committee, has defended farm subsidies, stating that non-farmers often aren’t aware of the precarious state of many farms in the United States. He and Stabenow both reiterated that a few days of bad weather can financially ruin even a successful farm and that federal intervention was needed to maintain a strong agricultural sector.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer