Let’s phase out wasteful subsidies.Photo: Earl WilkersonCross-posted from the Center for American Progress.
Agriculture and the family farm are the foundation of strong and healthy rural communities, and a critical engine of U.S. economic growth. Regrettably, a key aspect of U.S. agricultural policy does not meaningfully contribute to the success of U.S. farmers: Most federal farm subsidies are outdated, expensive, and inequitable.
In an era of fiscal constraint and more immediate budget priorities, many of these ineffective subsidies can no longer be justified. The federal government each year pays owners of historical croplands $4.9 billion in “direct payment” subsidies regardless of whether the people receiving the payments farm their lands. And these payments are automatically made every year despite rising fiscal deficits and a relatively healthy farm economy that saw net farm income grow by 27 percent in 2010.
An exclusive set of commodities — corn, sorghum, barley, oats, cotton, wheat, rice, soybeans, and peanuts — have received 72 percent, or $160 billion, of all U.S. farm payments since 1996. Even among this small group... Read more