Farm Bill Payment Limits: Part 3

This post was cross-posted on the blog where we are participating in a series of farm bill blog posts.

In my last post, I wrote that our elected representatives create blatant loopholes within payment limits to cater to a small number of individuals. I also wrote that the majority of rural Americans - and farmers - want strict payment limits of the type embodied in the Dorgan-Grassley bill. And to speak the language of political junkies and policy wonks everywhere, there are polls to prove it.

In 2005, a Kellogg Foundation-sponsored poll conducted in Iowa, Kansas and Minnesota found clear preferences for a strict $250,000 cap on farm program payments, which is the proposed cap in the Dorgan-Grassley bill reintroduced two weeks ago. All three states are considered farm states, and both farmers and non-farmers were surveyed. You can find the poll here. A quote from the poll summary:

[By] more than a two-to-one margin (67 percent to 31 percent) voters in these states support limiting direct payments to single farms to no more than $250,000. Interestingly, support is higher among farm income households and Republicans than among voters as a whole.

Since farm income households certainly understand farm programs and their impact, one might assume that their higher support for strict subsidy limits is significant. Not only do voters in these states support strict payment limits, they are willing to take that policy preference into the voting booth:

a majority of voters in each state describe themselves as more likely to support a member who supports limiting direct payments to single farms to no more than $250,000 and at least a third describe themselves as "much more likely" to support such a member.

Going further, voters in these three states strongly endorse programs that create rural jobs, conservation programs, and nutrition programs:

Chart One

But what if you survey farmers only? And shouldn't more states be surveyed, including the South, the supposed home of vast enthusiasm for unlimited farm program checks?

Every time a farm bill rolls around, the Farm Foundation surveys agricultural producers in multiple states. This time they surveyed over 15,000 farmers and ranchers in 27 states, and they group results by state and region.

Continue reading the full post.

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