Congress could achieve significant savings in the crop insurance program by reducing guaranteed payments to insurers and requiring wealthy operators to pay more for taxpayer-subsidized coverage, said the Government Accountability Office on Monday. The reforms could save billions of dollars on a program estimated to cost $101 billion over the next decade.
With the farm bill in mind, two Midwestern senators called for a "hard cap" of $250,000 in crop subsidies per farm, coupled with rules to limit the money to working farmers on Thursday. It would be an about-face in policy from recent years of easier access to USDA supports and emergency programs that paid up to $750,000 to corporate entities.
The 2023 farm bill is expected to be the most expensive ever but Congress will need additional funding to strengthen the farm and food safety nets, said the leaders of the Senate Agriculture Committee. In a letter, Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow and Republican John Boozman said additional funding would allow a transition away from the repeated bailouts that have cost more than $90 billion since 2018.
If it wants them, Congress should act directly to include goals such as climate mitigation in the farm bill rather than resort to crop insurance "add ons" that could meddle with the soundness of the federally subsidized program, said two analysts on Tuesday. Crop insurance is the largest federal support to agriculture, with an estimated cost of $15.5 billion this year.
Eight current members of the House Agriculture Committee received farm subsidies at some point since 1998, said the Environmental Working Group on Tuesday. Seven of the eight describe themselves on their congressional websites as farmers or the offspring of a farm family.
After decades of releasing the names of everyone who receives farm subsidy payments, the USDA has changed course, hiding the names of a portion of farm subsidy recipients. An advocacy group that publishes the data says that the decision to withhold recipient names obscures how billions of dollars of taxpayer money is spent.
The first update to the federal milk marketing system in nearly a quarter-century "should improve price discovery, improve the clarity of the program, continue to support timely payments to producers and reduce price incentives to de-pool milk," said a dozen U.S. farm groups on Monday. The groups said they believed the USDA would call a hearing in 2023 to address price formulas used in the marketing system.
The government paid a record $41.6 billion in a variety of subsidies to farmers in 2020, double the amount they received in 2018, when the Trump-era cash gusher began flowing, said the Environmental Working Group on Wednesday.
Considering the time needed to convert legislation into action, the Biden administration will oversee the payment of most or all of the $13 billion in agricultural aid that was included in the latest coronavirus package, said Agriculture Undersecretary Bill Northey on Tuesday. Still, there was a chance that some funds could flow before the end of January, or even before the change in the administration on Jan. 20, Northey said during a news conference.
Despite the effects of the pandemic and the trade war, U.S. farm income this year will be the highest since 2013 because of the largest federal payments ever — $46.5 billion, triple the usual amount, the government said on Wednesday. Think tank analysts said farm income would fall in 2021 with the expiration of Trump-era bailouts, but the drop-off will be lessened by the ongoing rally in commodity prices and increased ag exports.
In a reversal, the USDA said on Wednesday that family-run farms are not subject to a rule that tightens eligibility standards for crop subsidies — the opposite of what it announced three months ago. A small-farm advocate criticized the "correction," which applies to the bulk of U.S. farms, as a violation of the rule-making process and encouraged the incoming Biden administration to void it.
Crop and livestock prices have rebounded from coronavirus lows last spring and could bolster farm income as massive federal payments recede in 2021, said economists at a farm conference on Monday. Cortney Cowley of the Kansas City Federal Reserve cautioned “the path of this recovery is …
If farm subsidies were a crop, this year’s payments would fit the hoary rural adage, “big crops get bigger.” USDA supports, already forecast to set a record, could exceed $40 billion this year, thanks to the second round of coronavirus relief now available to farmers and …
On an 84-10 roll call vote, senators passed a short-term funding bill to keep the government open until Dec. 11, well after the November general election. Meanwhile, House Democrats delayed a vote on a $2.2 trillion coronavirus package that would increase SNAP benefits by 15 percent for one year and offer billions of dollars of additional assistance to farmers and ranchers.
President Trump wants a pre-election slush fund of up to $30 billion at USDA that he can spend with no strings attached, said the senior Democrat on the Senate Agriculture Committee on Monday as agricultural aid blossomed into a potential roadblock for a government funding bill. Republicans …
U.S. farm income, buoyed by record-setting farm subsidies this year, will sink in the new year with the disappearance of government payments to buffer the effects of the trade war and the coronavirus pandemic on agriculture, said the FAPRI think tank on Thursday. Farm groups and their allies in Congress are likely to seek billions of dollars in new federal assistance, said analysts.
The Trump administration is showering U.S. agriculture with the largest farm supports ever, an estimated $37 billion, chiefly through stopgap programs to mitigate the impact of the pandemic, said the Agriculture Department on Wednesday. As a result, farm income in 2020 would be the highest in seven years.
Seven weeks ago, the USDA forecast the highest U.S. net farm income since 2013. Since then, the coronavirus pandemic has driven down grain prices and “reduced (the) grain farm income outlook for 2020,” wrote five university economists on Tuesday. “Given current expected …
Working under the gun, Senate and House negotiators are exchanging proposals to resolve intractable disputes over the 2018 farm bill, with the hope of agreement as early as today. While the “four corners,” as the four lead negotiators are known, are working in private, there are last-minute calls from outside for reform.