The Best Choice in Tough Times

Amid all the debate in Congress over budget cuts and lightning quick farm bill deliberations, those of us outside Washington and Wall Street must remember the priorities that are crucial to building a better future in our communities. First and foremost, job creation should be the primary focus. And rural development programs that create jobs should be a priority in the federal farm bill being written right now.
Rural development programs that create jobs by investing in small business development, rural housing, community facilities and other critical infrastructure have not fared well in recent years. Funding for key USDA Rural Development programs and initiatives have already been cut by nearly twenty percent since 2003, long before the current budget cutting push even started.

Moreover, investments in rural development can be paid for easily. Today, the nation’s largest and wealthiest farms expect that farm and insurance subsidies will continue to role in, no matter how big they get and no matter how much the red ink runs in DC. In fact, if I farmed my entire home state of Iowa, USDA would pay 60 percent of the crop insurance premiums protecting me against falling crop prices and yields on every acre, every year – even when crop prices and federal deficits are at record highs. 

We can do better than this. When faced with a choice between creating jobs in rural America and giving unlimited subsidies to the nation’s largest farms, the best choice is obvious.

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