Monday, November 14, 2005

Senate Fails to Reform Inequitable Agricultural Subsidies

When you mention the words "agricultural subsidies" to residents of urban areas the first response is often a comment on wasteful government spending.   However, the truth is not so much that the subsidies are wrong in concept but that the failures lies in who is benefiting from them.  plk
Senate Fails to Reform Inequitable Agricultural Subsidies
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Just 8% of U.S. farms--the largest industrial farming  operations--receive the vast majority of government subsidies each  year, while family farmers in the U.S. and abroad are driven into poverty.

The US Senate once again missed an important opportunity to reform an agricultural subsidy program that is rife with fraud and abuse by voting down the Grassley-Dorgan amendment to the budget reconciliation bill.

An amendment introduced on the Senate floor on November 3rd by Sens. Charles Grassley and Byron Dorgan would have capped farm payments at $250,000 and eliminated the loopholes that have allowed megafarms to collect more than $1 million in subsidies.

In the budget reconciliation effort, both chambers of Congress were tasked to find $3 billion in savings from the agriculture budget, mainly from three programs: anti-hunger, conservation, and commodities.

Current US subsidies are calculated based on acreage and the volume of crops produced, so the largest industrial farms receive the most subsidies and gain the most advantage from loopholes in the law. This built-in incentive to produce and expand creates surpluses which cause prices to fall, putting smaller farms at a disadvantage. While large farmers benefit richly, small family farmers— here and abroad—struggle. In fact, according to the USDA, fewer than half of all farmers and ranchers in America collect government subsidies. And of those who do, a small percentage (8%) receive the great majority of the payments (78%).

“Congress should fund a sustainable farm program, not one that hurts family farms by encouraging consolidation and overproduction,” said Moore. “Instead, today’s move demonstrated the power that a small number of farming operations have in maintaining an antiquated farm program.”

Summarized by Copernic Summarizer


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