Farm Bill Could Reduce Subsidy Transparency

Plans to eliminate direct payment farm subsidies could lead to less government transparency regarding farm support, worrying some environmental groups and government oversight advocates.
This year and last year’s farm bills, while differing over the exact dollar amount in reductions, more or less set the same broad federal farm policy. Both bills reduced food stamp and nutritional aid funding, both strengthened crop insurance programs, and both eliminated the controversial direct payment subsidy program.
Direct payment subsides, long a staple of federal farm support, have become increasingly controversial. As farmer profits have increased, particularly in the middle of an economic downturn, taxpayers have become increasingly uncomfortable with the idea of giving farmers money for doing nothing.
While most Americans have hailed the elimination of direct payments, some groups are worried that they could translate into decreased federal openness. Current federal law discloses the names of farmers receiving direct payments. Crop insurance supports, however, are not disclosed. The elimination of direct payments could allow lawmakers receiving significant amounts of federal money to hide this information from constituents.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer