(April 2013) Even though the Farm Bill was extended by the fiscal cliff legislation that passed in January, Congress is still making crucial farm and rural policy choices. Spending decisions in the appropriations and budget processes strike at the heart of the matter … whether we cut Farm Bill spending in ways that do the least damage or perhaps even help rural America, or slash investments in the future of rural people and rural places.
Investments in rural development, beginning farmers and ranchers and conservation of soil and water hold great hope for rural cities and small towns. Unfortunately, Congress is under-investing in these vital initiatives, and over-subsidizing crop insurance premiums for mega-farms.
The fiscal cliff legislation and the sequester cut deeply into investments in rural America’s future while continuing to provide unlimited crop insurance premium subsidies to the nation’s largest farms. If one corporation farmed your entire state, the federal government would pay 60 percent of its crop insurance premiums on every acre, every year, regardless of price, production or profitability.
Tight budgets make it more important than ever to change Farm Bill spending priorities. I have yet to meet the person who believes it is more important to provide unlimited crop insurance premium subsidies to mega-farms than it is to invest in the future of our rural economy through beginning farmer and rancher programs and rural small business development, as well as conservation programs, to keep land and water healthy for future generations.
John Crabtree, Center for Rural Affairs