Jobs and Rural Development should be Farm Bill Priority

On Wednesday, April 25th, the Senate Agriculture Committee begins considering amendments to their draft Farm Bill proposal. When they do, they should make investment in creating genuine opportunities for rural Americans and their communities a priority. Unfortunately, their initial proposal does the opposite.
This proposal increases farm program and crop insurance subsidies for the nation’s largest farms and wealthiest landowners, but slashes investment in rural small business development and value-added agriculture. In fact, it makes no investment in rural development whatsoever. We can, we must do better than this.

In today’s economy, it is more important than ever that Congress make wise choices. Under-investing in our future while over-subsidizing the rich and powerful is not a priority that reflects the common good. Under current and proposed federal farm policy, if one corporation farmed my entire home state of Iowa, the federal government would pay 60 percent of its crop insurance premiums on every acre, every year, even in times of record profits.

The higher crop prices rise, the higher subsidies for crop insurance premiums rise. They have ballooned to one and one half times their cost just two years ago – higher than all other farm programs. And with no effective cap on how much one large operation can reap, these premiums simply become subsidies that mega-farms use to drive smaller family farms out of business.

We face a simple choice, either lavish subsidies on mega-farms, or, invest in rural America’s future. The best choice is obvious.

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