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October 02, 2014
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editorial

The gravy train; Agricultural subsidies need reform


Meantime, here in the Upper Delaware River Valley, small family farms that may really need a safety net or young farmers just starting out are left totally at the mercy of a marketplace that does not have a level playing field. Surely there is something wrong with this picture.

While it may not be surprising that some House and Senate farm bill conferees want to retain unlimited open payments for their agricultural “clients,” it is nonetheless galling that at the same time the negotiators apparently are ready to eliminate about $9 billion over the next decade for food stamps through cuts in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) (www.washingtonpost.com/politics/farm-bill-talks-nearing-conclusion-with-....) Apparently it is easier to take money from the poorest and hungriest Americans (including 21 million children whose families rely on food stamps) than it is to shut down welfare for the wealthiest farmers and even non-farmers masquerading as persons who are “actively engaged in farming” (www.ewg.org/agmag/2013/10/farming-isn-t-requirement-claim-farm-subsidies.)

We urge the farm bill conference committee to eliminate the loopholes, set fair but significant limits to farm subsidy payments, and plow the savings back into programs that help working farmers and beginning farmers who actually need the help as well as back into the food stamps program.

[Editor’s note: For interesting reading, see Oklahoma Republican Sen. Tom A. Coburn’s 2011 report “Subsidies of the Rich and Famous.” Sen. Coburn announced last week that he will give up his senate seat at the end of 2014 (www.coburn.senate.gov/public//index.cfm?a=Files.Serve&File_id=544ae3e7-1...).]