Discussions about government handouts and welfare programs never quite seem to cover all of the areas where the government gives money away. The subsidies given to farmers are estimated to be approximately $5-7.6 billion dollars per year from 2012 until 2016. The crop insurance program allows farmers to buy private insurance that covers drops in the price of their crops, poor yields for any given year or both. The government pays approximately 62% of the premium plus the costs of administrating the policies. The taxpayers foot the bill.
A bipartisan bill introduced by Democrats Sherrod Brown (OH), Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.)(NE), Tim Johnson (SD) and (IA) along with Republican (WY) calls for a cap on the amount of subsidy a couple can receive. Instead of providing unlimited funds, this bill would primarily shift payment from large corporate farms to smaller, family owned and mid-size farms. It would also set limits for farms that are not actively run by the recipient.
The “Farm Bubble” burst in the early '80s causing farm asset values to decline by over 25% in the United States. Because of the plight of the farmers and an outcry of public support to save family farms led to $17 billion dollars in farm subsidies. Since that time, corporations jumped on board when they realized it was a guaranteed payout. If farmers were hit with a drought and the crops failed, they would make their money anyway. The shift from small farms to corporate farms grew at exponential rates.
The chance of this bill getting passed is the same as it is every year - zero. A bill is introduced almost every year, especially election years. The purpose of the bill is not to actually take away subsidies, but instead to fool voters into beleiving this taxpayer expenditure is going to go away. After all, if politicians were to say that they weren't going to do anything about it, they would not be re-elected.
This is simply one example of corporations being given handouts by the government. By forcing small family owned farms out of business, corporations took over. As this nation moves forward with budget cuts on the horizon for all areas of the budget, let’s hope we see this one cut quickly.
There will be a series of articles about many areas of subsidies in the near future that will cover a wide array of topics. Please be sure to share these articles and spread the word. Together we CAN stop government waste. First our elected officials need to know we recognize what they are doing, then they need to realize they are going to be held accountable.