agricultural subsidies

Boosted by forage policies, crop insurance coverage tops 500 million acres

Farmers and ranchers bought crop insurance policies on more than 500 million acres of land last year, the largest amount ever, driven by the surging popularity of forage policies. Overall enrollment in crop insurance was up 85 percent in the seven years from 2016, according to USDA data.

The farm bill hall of shame

With the state of the next farm bill in crisis, FERN and Mother Jones launched a series of articles that analyze the nature of that crisis and explore the emerging issues that are changing the mandate of the nation’s most important agricultural legislation. In today’s piece, Claire Kelloway unpacks the ill-fated and sometimes shameful histories of the major debates that continue to shape today’s farm bill.

Reference prices are the farm bill mystery and roadblock

Congress is not so much stalled over writing the new farm bill as unable to get started on it, considering the ongoing mystery of reference prices, said farm policy expert Jonathan Coppess. Higher reference prices, a key factor in boosting crop subsidies, are a priority of farm groups and their allies in Congress but no proposal has been made public in the past year to increase them. (No paywall)

Claim: Farm bill debate pits conservation vs. commodities

The current tug-of-war among lawmakers for farm bill funding "offers a case study" of the long-running tension between conservation and crop subsidies, said Jonathan Coppess, associate professor at the University of Illinois. This time, the issue is whether to shift up to $18 billion that was earmarked for climate mitigation (in the 2022 climate, healthcare, and tax law) into crop subsidies.

GOP bloc urges swift passage of farm bill

Sixty-one House Republicans called on Speaker Mike Johnson for speedy passage of the new farm bill, despite a grim outlook for the legislation expressed by a leading analyst. Work on the farm bill is at an impasse among farm-state lawmakers over crop subsidy and climate funding, with conservatives itching for the chance during floor debate to constrain SNAP eligibility and outlays. (No paywall)

Think Tank: Minority farmers less likely than whites to benefit from crop insurance

Federally subsidized crop insurance is the dominant farm support, but socially disadvantaged farmers are far less likely than white farmers to participate in those programs, said a free-market think tank on Tuesday. Agriculture is an overwhelmingly white occupation in the United States, and the portion of mid-size and large farms—the major beneficiaries of crop insurance — operated by whites is even larger.

Insuring desert farms against heat-related losses is bad policy

Studies have repeatedly shown that federally subsidized crop insurance discourages farmers from updating their practices, tools, or strategies in ways that would help them adapt to climate change — but the federal government still subsidizes a whopping 62 percent of farmers’ insurance premiums.

USDA announces $4.3 billion smorgasbord of ag aid

Farmers and ranchers who suffered losses due to natural disasters ranging from drought to hurricanes last year will receive $3.7 billion in aid in coming months, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. The USDA also announced $500 million in additional funding for the Regional Conservation Partnership Program and $103 million to defray marketing costs for organic dairy farmers this year.

Report: Farm policies fuel grasslands destruction, undermine climate and biodiversity goals

The U.S.’s grasslands are critical habitats for pollinators and birds and hold vast amounts of carbon in their soils. But our agricultural policies — particularly the Renewable Fuel Standard and crop insurance subsidies — are incentivizing the rapid destruction of these ecosystems, the World Wide Fund for Nature said in a report published Monday. (No paywall)

CBO adds 2 percent to cost of farm bill programs

Higher enrollment in SNAP and lower commodity prices will boost the 10-year baseline for the farm bill to $1.48 trillion, the most expensive ever, said the Congressional Budget Office in an updated projection of federal spending. The baseline sets the limit for spending in the new farm bill. …

India is challenged at WTO over rice and wheat subsidies

Some of the world’s agricultural powerhouses accused India on Thursday of violating world trade rules through exorbitant subsidies for its wheat and rice farmers. India was the ninth-largest farm exporter in the world in 2020, but its success was built on subsidized production, said Australia, Canada, Paraguay, Thailand, Ukraine, and the United States in a WTO filing.

Farm-state Republicans consider raiding climate-change cookie jar

Without exception, Senate and House Republicans voted last summer against the climate, health and tax bill that earmarked $20 billion for USDA’s voluntary land stewardship programs, with a priority on practices that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase climate resiliency. Now, they …

Farm safety net cushions big operators the most — analysts

Due to consolidation, federal farm supports increasingly are paid to the wealthiest producers, who have household incomes far above the rest of the country, said analysts at a think tank seminar on Monday. The stream of money to large operators was a stark contrast to frequent depictions of the farm program as the safeguard of small family farmers, they said.

Farm bill perspectives come in blue and red in the Senate

Farm bills are typically a marriage of farm support and public nutrition programs, but Republicans and Democrats bring different priorities to the undertaking, said associate professor Jonathan Coppess of the University of Illinois.

Premium subsidies for crop insurance near $12 billion a year

In a decade, government outlays to subsidize crop insurance increased 60 percent, expanding in step with the rapid growth in acreage covered by the policies, according to Risk Management Agency data released Sunday.

As ecological ‘triple threat’ looms, U.S. envoy urges action on biodiversity

Leaders must act to confront the "triple threat" of nature loss, climate change and pollution, said Monica Medina, the U.S. Special Envoy for Biodiversity and Water Resources, speaking Friday at the UN Biodiversity Conference in Montreal. (No paywall)

Food-system reform is crucial, but controversial, piece of biodiversity deal

At the UN Biodiversity Conference, currently underway in Montreal, delegates from 196 countries are trying to craft a plan to reverse the loss of biodiversity by 2030. And food production, which is responsible for 70 percent of terrestrial biodiversity loss and half of the loss of freshwater species, is proving to be a key but contentious variable in fulfilling that goal. (No paywall)

Farm bill proposal: Strengthen subsidy limits, boost land stewardship

With its toothless payment limits, the U.S. farm program directs billions of dollars a year to the largest and wealthiest farmers in America while struggling family farmers often are overlooked, said the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.

Middling support for helping farmers adopt sustainable practices

Americans agree that federal aid to farmers during a disaster is important. They are less likely to support federal assistance to help producers adopt sustainable farming practices, according to the quarterly Gardiner Food and Agricultural Policy Survey.

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