Debate over the future of farm subsidies has both united and divided the Democratic and Republican Parties in Washington. Over the past few months, debate in Congress has revolved around the increasing federal budget deficit. The budget gap currently stands at around $1 trillion. As Republicans and Democrats both look for ways to close this gap, farm subsidies are easy targets.
Current farm subsidies currently range between $10 and $25 billion. Of that money, about $5 billion is in the form of direct payment to corn, wheat, and rice farmers, regardless of crop prices. It is these payments that have garnered the most ire from ordinary Americans. Conservatives argue that they are inefficient and do not make economic sense, particularly the fact that they are not tied to crop prices, while many liberals argue that the payments go primarily to large corporate farms, bypassing smaller, family farms which are often in most need of help.
At the same time that the farm subsidies debate is uniting some Democrats and Republicans, it is also causing rifts within the parties as farm advocates from both sides defend the current subsidies. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kansas) argued that farmers understand the debt crisis, but that the agricultural sector has already sacrificed and that further cuts to farm subsidies were hurt struggling farmers. In addition, Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri) argued that removing subsidies could drive up food prices, hurting consumers and farmers alike.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer