Obama’s budget plan is partially hinged on Global Warming Protection which is being undermined by Big Agri as usual. To say I’m extremely disappointed in Senator Conrad’s (D-ND) decision is an understatement, and this is why.
Senate Budget committee chairman Kent Conrad (D-ND) announced yesterday he would reject President Obama’s plan to cut billions in crop subsidy payments that flow mostly to large profitable farm operations and wealthy landowners.
This is part of Obama’s plan calls for a three-year phase-out of direct payments to grain, cotton, and soybean growers who have more than $500,000 a year in sales. Needless to say, the National Farmers Union opposes this.
Delegates at the NFU convention in suburban Washington adopted language opposing any change in the 2008 farm law, still being implemented, and asking Congress to oppose cuts in direct payments.
Created in 2002, direct payments total $5.2 billion a year and are made regardless of prices. There are 126,000 farms in the category.
Conrad’s solution is to cut back on programs that would be beneficial to the environment.
Instead, according to a March 24 report by Charles Abbott of Reuters news service, Conrad said he would slash several other programs, among them, two conservation programs that are critical to winning the fight against global warming.
The conservation programs on Conrad’s chopping block help farmers reduce their own greenhouse gas emissions and also engage in practices that take carbon out of the air and store it in the soil. Moreover, these programs help farmers protect their land and the environment from the more frequent floods, droughts, and severe weather blamed on global warming.
“Farmers must be on the front lines in the fight against global warming,” said Craig Cox, Environmental Working Group Midwest Vice-President. “There is a lot at stake in this fight, not only for U.S. agriculture but also for the rest of us who benefit from smart agriculture practices.”
The Obama administration’s position on this issue is that these farmers are in a good position to make up for these losses in payments by “emerging markets for environmental services such as carbon sequestration, renewable energy production and providing clean air, clean water and wildlife habitat.”
I couldn’t agree more with the direction they are trying to take and there needs to be reform to get rid of the abuses we have been paying for.
“Senator Conrad is proposing to take us in exactly the wrong direction by refusing to reform the abuses that funnel billions in taxpayer dollars to large profitable farm operations and wealthy landowners while cutting programs that fight global warming,” said Cox.
Conservation programs are chronically under-funded and deserve more federal support, not less.
- Congress has repeatedly appropriated far less for EQIP than they promised to provide in the 2002 and 2008 farm bills; $692 million less than promised in the 2002 bill and already $270 million less than promised in the 2008 bill.
- The latest data available from the U.S. Agriculture department (USDA) shows that North Dakota received nearly $5 billion in commodity crop subsidies between 1995 and 2006.
- Reform of farm subsidy programs enjoys widespread support across America. During the last farm bill debate there were over 450 editorials calling for farm subsidy reform. A poll commissioned by Oxfam America found that that more than six in 10 voters in those districts polled supported farm subsidy reform and a commodity payment system that would provide more benefits to small family farmers who need the help most.
- According to the USDA Economic Research Service (ERS), average farm household income has exceeded average U.S .household income every year since 1996 – 27.5 percent higher in 2007 alone.