D.C. Watch: Farm bill embroiled in politics
That will be a very tough sell. As we’ve reported numerous times in this column, the one thing nearly all farm groups agree upon is that Congress definitely should NOT weaken crop insurance in the new farm bill, but consider it a top priority to defend as the backbone of future farm policy. And so far, that is exactly what they’ve done.
Read on: Farm spending was likely to climb despite the savings trumpeted by the version of the bill already passed by the Senate or the one currently pending in the House according to Agricultural economist Vincent Smith, part of the farm policy team at the American Enterprise Institute. He notes both bills would expand the crop insurance system, the largest strand in the farm safety net.
But he warns “They create insurance-like programs tied to crop production that could be challenged globally as unfair subsidies, he said, adding, "We have expanded the risk of WTO (World Trade Organization) problems to 17 or 18 crops, from chickpeas to corn,” said Smith. “Blockbuster crops like corn and soybeans are not the only targets for cost cutting” says Tom Schatz of Citizens Against Government Waste. He says sugar subsidies should be a target for reform in a farm bill next year.
Brandon Arnold of the National Taxpayers Union said there would be a "much better opportunity to write good policy," if agricultural programs and public nutrition programs such as food stamps for the poor were split into separate bills. “It would end the often lengthy vote trading between urban and rural lawmakers,” he said.
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