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Rural Advocate: We Need A Farm Bill

PHOTO: Chuck Hassebrook is executive director of the Center for Rural Affairs.
PHOTO: Chuck Hassebrook is executive director of the Center for Rural Affairs.
November 14, 2012

MADISON, Wis. - Now that the election is over, what happens with the Farm Bill?

Chuck Hassebrook, executive director of the Center for Rural Affairs, says Congress should turn its attention to investing in the future of rural America.

"That means investing in beginning-farmer programs, and investing in small-business development programs, and the Rural Development Title, because those are things that are going to help create a future in our communities by enabling young people to start businesses they need to make a living out here."

Hassebrook hopes Congress has received the message from the electorate that it wants both sides to work together to come up with solutions to our national problems.

As for how to fund the Farm Bill, Hassebrook believes the answer is obvious.

"We could save $1 billion a year by simply putting a $40,000 cap on the subsidies for crop-insurance premiums. In other words, we could say the federal government won't pay more than $40,000 of a megafarm's crop insurance premiums. That alone would generate the savings to make up all the cuts in rural-development programs over the last 10 years."

Hassebrook says it's possible Congress could come to terms on the Farm Bill during the lame-duck session that started this week, but he thinks it's more important that lawmakers take the time to pass a Farm Bill that addresses the issues that would bolster rural America.

One of the things that's important in order to get the Farm Bill right, he says, is to stop giving money to those who need it least.

"Stop oversubsidizing megafarms that drive smaller operations out of business, and instead invest in our future – through beginning farmer programs, small business development programs, and rural entrepreneurship."

More information is online at cfra.org.

Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI