Farm Program Funding Priorities Called Out of Step
AUSTIN, Texas - The Center for Rural Affairs is calling for a change in priorities in how the nation's farm programs are funded. Executive director Chuck Hassebrook said those programs that invest in rural America have seen dramatic cuts.
"Small-business development programs, beginning farmer programs, several of them now are completely put on hold with no money," he said. "In some other places, there have been no cuts."
One place where Congress should look to cut but has not, Hassebrook said, is crop insurance premium subsidies.
"For example, right now if one corporation farmed your entire state," he explained, "the federal government would pay 60 percent of its crop insurance premiums on every acre, every year - good years and bad."
Putting a cap on those could save $1 billion a year, Hassebrook said, adding that those savings could be used for deficit reduction and to fund conservation and rural development programs that he calls vital for the future prosperity of rural America.
"There should be a higher priority on investing in the future of our small towns and rural communities, through small-business development and beginning farmer programs, than there should be on multimillion-dollar, unlimited premium subsidies to 'mega farms,'" he said, "yet Congress is doing the opposite."
The last Farm Bill expired in the fall, but has been temporarily extended by Congress.