In a statement earlier this week, Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow declared the era of direct payments over, officially stating what farmers and politicians have been expecting for months.
Stabenow’s comments were made during a Senate farm bill hearing. For the past year, politicians and farmers have speculated on the upcoming bill. Given the economic situation and Congress’ current obsession with eliminating deficit spending, many farmers anticipated significant cuts to federal farm subsidies, particularly direct farm payments.
Over the past several months, direct payments have become increasingly unpopular politically. Given record high crop prices and farm incomes, many taxpayers have expressed resentment at subsidizing wealthy farmers. Agricultural leaders, however, have pointed out that high prices are not guaranteed and that a major agricultural downturn, combined with significantly reduced farm subsidies, could leave many farmers in a difficult situation.
In order to guarantee continued financial support, Stabenow and other agricultural leaders have suggested strengthening the crop insurance program as a way to counterbalance the elimination of direct payments. According to Kansas Senator Pat Roberts, the ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, “The more producers under that crop-insurance tent and protected from disaster, the more stable our food supply and rural economies will be.”
Stabenow has already promised to include crop insurance reform in the new farm bill.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer