The Free Press, Mankato, Minn.
There is broad agreement that the next Farm Bill will contain substantial cuts, but there are wide disagreements on how the important legislation should be crafted.
With the current five-year Farm Bill to expire in September, most agree that direct subsidies to farmers - which sends $5 billion to landowners no matter their income - will be curtailed. But some are angling to simply replace those subsidies with an "insurance" program that would foolishly have taxpayers subsidizing farmers' income.
Crop insurance has traditionally been touted as a safety net in an industry that is reliant on weather.
Under the system, farmers' private insurance premiums are subsidized and the insurance pays them if they suffer major crop or animal losses.
But some groups are calling for an insurance program in which a majority of the premiums are covered by taxpayers and producers collect insurance payments for even minor losses. Such a program would effectively guarantee an income for producers at a high cost to taxpayers. It's a gift any business would love.
Fortunately, many groups, including the Farm Bureau, argue that the insurance program should only cover major losses.
Those on the committees should focus on crafting a less costly Farm Bill that provides a reasonable insurance safety net for catastrophic losses, invests heavily in conservation programs and provides adequate support for food and nutrition programs for children and those in need.
Published April 18, 2012, in Allied News. Pick up a copy at 201 A Erie St., Grove City.