The Environmental Working Group hosted a press conference with different organizations opposed to raising farmer support in the next farm bill. Josh Sewell, senior policy analyst with Taxpayers for Common Sense, says there’s no need to boost farm subsidies.
“I think this is especially true as the farm sector is not in crisis. The USDA just projected net farm income in 2023 to be $141 billion. That’s more than 20 percent above the 20-year average annual net farm income. And remember, this is after a record $183 billion in net farm income last year. The numbers just don’t lie. Farm income is up. It’s outpacing costs, bankruptcies are low, farm equity is high, and most crop prices are above long-term averages.”
Sewell says while a farm safety net is necessary, it does need some reform.
“It’s important to remember that taxpayers can afford a farm safety net if it’s focused on those truly in need, reflects our fiscal challenges, and fosters resilience instead of dependence on taxpayer subsidies. But leaving federally subsidized crop insurance unexamined and increasing government-enforced crop prices in the farm bill commodities title are things we cannot afford. It’s simple for people who are seriously concerned with our debts and deficits. The next farm bill must reform the farm safety net, not increase farm subsidies.”
Chris Edwards, director of tax policy studies for the Cato Institute, says crop insurance is a specific area that needs reform.
“The largest subsidy program is crop insurance. It has no income limits. Even billionaires receive crop insurance subsidies. Crop insurance was expanded in recent decades so that Congress wouldn’t have to do all these emergency bailout bills, but it does the emergency bailout bills anyway. So, under Trump, for example, a $23 billion extra farm subsidy was passed related to trade disputes.”