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Farm Bill Analysis: “Reform” Rips off Idaho

February 18, 2008

Boise, ID – It's reform -- in name only. The Center for Rural Affairs has taken a closer look at the new U.S. Farm Bill that Congress is finishing up, and finds that the proposed "limits" on payments made to large-scale, corporate farms could actually mean more money for those farms.

Report author Dan Owens says, although Congress intends to close one loophole on the free money, it has left others on the books. To Owens, that hardly qualifies as "true reform."

"Closing one gate, but leaving three others open, doesn't keep the hogs out of the trough. You've got to do a comprehensive version of payment limit reform."

Supporters of the subsidy payments for some types of crops argue that they help keep consumer prices low. But Owens counters that the payments "steal" money from programs that benefit Idaho, including rural development. President Bush has threatened to veto the new Farm Bill if it doesn't include payment limitations. Owens points out that there's only so much money to go around in this major piece of legislation, so limiting payments to large-scale farms that are already profitable would free up money for other important, agriculture-related projects.

"Put a limit on it, then take those savings and put them into things like rural economic development, conservation programs, even nutrition programs."

The Center's full report can be viewed online, at www.cfra.org.

Deborah Smith/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - ID