Across the United States, some farmers and farm advocacy groups are taking a stand to end or reduce farm subsidies. Since the 1930s, the federal government has supported agricultural producers throughout the country, offering direct payments, grants and loans, and other forms of financial support for farmers who have hit hard times. However, in the recent economic downturn, many farm subsidies have found themselves on the chopping block as the federal government focuses on slashing deficits and reducing spending.
While many farmers and farm organizations have opposed further cuts to farm safety nets, some U.S. farmers have rallied around government officials who have threatened to reduce farm subsidies. Craig Lang, a dairy farmer in Idaho who has received tens of thousands of dollars from the government in recent years, argued that farmers need to bear some of the financial burden face by ordinary Americans. Others have argued that since agricultural production has reached record price highs in recent years that many of the safety nets and direct payments from the federal government aren’t currently necessary. Other farm organizations argue that farm subsidies can be reduced by better targeting their recipients. Some complain that major agribusinesses are receiving the lion’s share of federal money, often to the detriment of small farmers nationwide.
Another rallying cry against farm subsidies is the fact that much of the federal money does not go to rural areas. According to recent studies by the Environmental Working Group, almost $400 million, going to over 90,000 people, flows into major urban centers like New York, Chicago, and Phoenix. Many absentee owners and farm investors, who have little direct connection to agricultural life and production, receive millions of dollars in farm subsidies, an arrangement that many farm groups say is both unfair and untenable in the long term.
While few farmers support the total removal of all farm supports, many have been pushing for better managed financial aid, arguing that direct payments should be phased out in favor of more appropriate farm aid.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer