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2012 Farm Bill Winners & Losers

April 26, 2012

LYONS, Neb. - The U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee meets today to consider the 2012 Farm Bill, which critics say still favors wealthy farmers at the expense of much-needed rural development.

Chuck Hassebrook, executive director of the Center for Rural Affairs, says the federal government's investment in rural America through the Farm Bill has been dropping in the past 10 years, and this new bill does little to reverse the trend. He says the bill continues to favor mega-farms by paying most of the crop insurance premiums even in record profit years.

"Essentially, what the federal government does is pay 60 percent of the crop-insurance premiums on every acre, every year for the biggest farms. It's the most expensive part of the farm program, and that would increase for some of the biggest farms."

At the same time, he says, the bill slashes investment in rural small-business development and value-added agriculture. Hassebrook says two Democratic senators have proposed an amendment to change that.

"Sens. Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Ben Nelson of Nebraska will offer an amendment that would put a lower cap on the taxable income of people who receive farm payments, so people - couples who make over a million bucks a year - would no longer get farm payments."

The money saved would then be put toward rural development, he says, adding that an estimated $250 million could be reinvested in rural development programs in the next five years.

Dick Layman, Public News Service - IA