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Analysis: Farm Bill “Cash Crops” Still Shortchange Idaho’s Number One Industry

October 22, 2007

Boise, ID – For spuds, it's a dud. At least one agriculture expert says the latest U.S. Farm Bill proposal being considered in the Senate does nothing to look out for Idaho's number one crop.

Chuck Hassebrook of the Center for Rural Affairs says the proposal would hurt Idaho family farmers and specialty crop growers, because it keeps multimillion dollar payments flowing to corporate farms, located mainly in the Midwest. Hassebrook says the result is unfair competition.

"Farmers and non-farmers agree that farm programs ought to be designed to strengthen small and mid-sized farms, not help the big farms drive them out of business."

Those who support the payments argue that they help keep food prices low for consumers. Hassebrook counters that consumers don't get a good deal, because their tax dollars are disappearing into corporate profits. He adds true reform of the payment system is possible, and several Senators are working on a plan that takes an alternate, "get tough" approach.

"We've got payment limitations on the books, but they're not effective because they contain so many loopholes. We're just going to close the loopholes."

The U.S. House has already passed its version of a new Farm Bill; the Senate takes up the issue this week.

Deborah Smith/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - ID