Cap Subsidies to Mega Farms

The debate over the 2013 Farm Bill has begun on the floor of the U.S. Senate. The draft Farm Bill that emerged from the Senate Agriculture Committee would level the playing field for farm families by establishing meaningful payment limitations on traditional farm programs for the nation’s largest and wealthiest farms - up to a grand total of $125,000 ($250,000 per couple), thanks to the tireless work of Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD).

It does not, however, put caps on the largest farm subsidy, namely crop insurance premium subsidies. If one corporation farmed an entire state, the federal government would pay 60 percent of its crop insurance premiums on every acre, in good years and bad.

Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) will offer an amendment on the Senate floor that will stop over-subsidizing rich mega-farmers. It would cap crop insurance premium subsidies at $50,000 per farm and apply the “actively engaged” rule to all recipients to ensure these subsidies support real farmers, not passive investors.

Mega-farms use unlimited federal subsidies of all types to bid up land costs, drive their small neighbors out of business, and bar beginning farmers from ever getting started. We applaud these efforts to reform federal farm programs and believe it is a vitally important step in strengthening family farms. We also believe those reforms must apply to federal crop insurance premium subsidies.

That’s precisely what the Shaheen-Toomey amendment does and why we urge its passage.