Farm Subsidies Remain a Point of Contention
|By Mychel Matthews, The Times-News, Twin Falls, Idaho|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
The original intent of the farm subsidy program was to provide economic stability to farmers during the Great Depression and to ensure an affordable domestic food supply for Americans.
But in recent years, high crop prices have clouded some perspectives on farm subsidies.
Critics are now calling the subsidies -- which are part of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act -- better known as the farm bill -- "wasteful" amid booming agricultural production and spiking revenue.
The farm bill Conference Report, which passed the House last week and will soon go before the
"At a time of record farm income, the agriculture committees once again chose to increase unlimited subsidies to the most profitable and financially secure farm businesses at the expense of hungry children and the environment," said
Those efficiencies come at huge production costs, he said.
"There is no question that, for crop farmers, we've had several of the best price years we have ever had," said Noh. "We've also had some beef, pork and lamb prices that were high."
But that's not always the case, he said. Subsidies have kept many farmers from going under during lean years.
"We could have a few good years, then we could have some catastrophic loss," Noh said.
Still, most of the subsidies today go to the farmers who least need the money, critics say.
The biggest complaint is over what critics call "subsidy millionaires." Twenty-six people nationwide each receive at least
However, "that's not the typical
Each state's FSA administers
"Subsidy numbers sound huge," Abbot said. "But they are miniscule compared to the entire farm bill."
Over the past 18 years,
The total amount of farm subsidies paid in 2012 in the county was
But basing the subsidy distribution on the number of subsidy recipients -- rather than the number of acres farmed by those recipients -- is misleading, Abbot said.
"There's no way of knowing how many acres each recipient farms," he said. "You've got to have all the facts when making statements regarding subsidies."
Farm supports cost Americans just
The top states to receive farm subsidies in the past 18 years are
Farmer and dairyman
If the conference report passes the
"This year's farm bill is an improvement over the status quo, and while I would have preferred to see deeper cuts in spending, it gets us closer to where we need to be," Labrador said following last week's vote.
Meanwhile, the controversy will continue.
The subsidy program "is awfully detailed, and reflects the politics of the country," said Noh.
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