Congress should make the wealthiest farmers pay a larger share of the cost of taxpayer-subsidized crop insurance and hold the line on crop subsidies in the new farm bill, said a half dozen think tanks, budget hawks, and environmental groups on Wednesday. “There is no obvious or urgent need to increase farm subsidies,” said Nan Swift of the R Street Institute, despite the appeals of farm groups.
Congress should provide a “meaningful enhancement” of crop subsidies and the crop insurance program in light of declining farm income, said Republican staff workers on the Senate Agriculture Committee on Thursday. “Headwinds persist in the U.S. farm economy,” they said in a report, pointing to a slowdown in farm exports, weakening commodity prices, high production costs, and rising interest rates.
The cost of price supports for dairy, and for an array of field crops, could skyrocket if Congress allows the 2018 farm law to expire without a replacement, estimated the Congressional Research Service.
Growers in the U.S. South could lose $1.4 billion in farm subsidies over the next decade if Congress decides to align payments more closely with the crops they produce, said an analysis by Republicans on the Senate Agriculture Committee. “A mandatory base acre update would create winners and losers ... and most certainly complicate efforts to pass a new farm bill,” said the analysis.
The two largest U.S. farm groups stuck to requests for expensive changes in the farm safety net — higher crop subsidy rates and broader access to subsidized insurance — in the face of a warning on Tuesday that the money might not be available. Senate Agriculture Committee chair Debbie Stabenow pointed to proposals that would tie an increase in the federal debt limit to steep cuts in spending.
For years, the crop subsidy limit has been $125,000 a year per farmer. Given a free hand on subsidies, Americans would keep the limit roughly the same, though they would give small family farms an extra bit of help, said a trio of analysts on Thursday.
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 are …
After surging to a record $149 billion last year as part of the federal response to the pandemic, SNAP will cost $121 billion a year in the near term, said the Congressional Budget Office on Wednesday.
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)
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.
Representatives of several lobbying groups testified Wednesday at a House hearing on crop insurance ahead of the 2023 farm bill, describing the program as one of the best tools available to protect farmers from crop losses, regardless of farm size.
Since early this year, farm groups worried about rising production costs have called for higher reference prices, which are used in calculating crop subsidies, to be written into the 2023 farm bill. Congress is months away from drafting the farm bill, so there has been little discussion of the budgetary impact. But it could be significant, according to university economists who looked at a related concept: The reference-price escalator that was included in the 2018 farm law.
Concerned by rising production costs and the longevity of sky-high commodity prices, farm-state lawmakers floated margin protection for crop growers and standby farm disaster programs on Thursday for inclusion in the 2023 farm bill. However, farm bill funding may be tight, which could limit Congress’ ability to add new features to the farm program.
Only 5 percent of U.S. cropland is planted to cover crops amid debate over their financial benefits to farmers. Congress may need to offer a "sizable" subsidy to growers if it wants large-scale adoption of the farming practice, said two university economists.
Congress traditionally enacts the farm policy bills covering the gamut from crop subsidies to food stamps at the urging of a coalition of farm, conservation and anti-hunger groups. A former USDA official said the 2023 farm bill could be in peril if there is a repetition of the political turbulence that temporarily derailed the omnibus legislation twice in the eight years.
At the same time farm-state lawmakers are trying to add $2 billion to $3 billion a year to USDA conservation programs, a coalition of farmers and ag groups says the price tag for climate mitigation on the farm should be much higher —$100 per acre or $40 billion a year when fully implemented. No paywall
Robert Bonnie, named USDA climate adviser on the same day President Biden took office, will soon be in charge of all farm support programs, from land stewardship to farm subsidies and crop insurance, if confirmed by the Senate. Biden nominated Bonnie for undersecretary for farm production and conservation, arguably the highest-profile sub-cabinet post at USDA, on Friday.
The Biden administration's plan to enlist American agriculture in mitigating climate change through cover crops and carbon trading could pay dividends in another field entirely — negotiations for freer agriculture trade, said an American Enterprise Institute paper on Tuesday. The United States would be in a stronger bargaining position if it shifted some of its farm subsidies into .s.o-called green box programs that are deemed not to distort international trade, said the paper written by three farm policy experts.