2012 Farm Bill rewards large agri-business, punishes small farmers and low income families

“The House Agriculture Committee Farm Bill cuts $16 billion from SNAP benefits, primarily by limiting eligibility. The Committee rejected an effort to make the cuts even steeper (by applying the draconian Ryan Budget cuts) but also rejected an effort to restore the SNAP cuts or use the lower level of $4 billion in cuts in the Senate Farm bill.”

This is reposted from www.GRIID.org

Yesterday, MLive ran a story citing Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow who believes that the 2012 Farm Bill that passed in the Senate and is being voted on in the House today is a “win for Michigan.”

Actually, the MLive posting wasn’t much of an article, since it was mainly a re-printing of a statement from Senator Stabenow, with no other voices or a critical assessment of the version of the bill passed by the Senate.

The version passed by the Senate is not a win for Michigan, unless you define Michigan as big business. According to Food & Water Watch, which has been organizing a campaign to get the federal government to pass a Fair Farm Bill, the Senate passed version of the Farm Bill benefits the large agri-businesses in the US, not small farmers or a sustainable food system.

Although the Senate bill made changes to commodity policy that will be touted as reform,the bill reinforced prior farm policies that favor large industrial-scale agriculture and overproduction of commodity crops like corn and soybeans. Only a few companies sell what farmers need (like seeds, fertilizer and tractors) and only a few firms buy what farmers raise, which means they pay more for supplies and get less for their crops and livestock. The four largest companies in each industry slaughter nearly all the beef, process two-thirds of the pork, sell half the groceries and process about half the milk in the United States.

This is no accident. It’s the direct result of lobbying campaigns by major agribusinesses, industry trade associations and the policies that Congress passed on their behalf. And the process in which the Farm Bill was decided is even more disconcerting. Started in secretunder the guise of the Supercommittee budget slashing process last fall, the farm bill has had little input from anyone other than a handful of legislators and the Big Ag lobbyists who pay the most to play. The secret farm bill developed for the Supercommittee got scant scrutiny from the Senate Agriculture Committee. The 1,000-page proposal was released only a few days before the Committee finalized the nearly trillion-dollar legislation in three short hours  – that’s about $90 million a second.

Then, when the Farm Bill finally made its way to the Senate’s agenda last week, nearly 300 amendments flooded in. From the absurd (ending the federal food stamp program and taking on Canadian geese) – to the outright irrelevant  (aid to Pakistan and protecting the Pentagon budget), many of the amendments had little to do with farming or food.

The House version of the bill was introduced last week and might be decided on today. The MLive story mentions this in one sentence, but offers up no information on what is in the House version of the Farm Bill, nor where Michigan members of Congress stand on this issue.

Again, according to Food & Water Watch, the House version so far has not been a benefit to the public. They state:

Most of today’s action was related to the nutrition title, which primarily funds the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly known as food stamps). The House Agriculture Committee Farm Bill cuts $16 billion from SNAP benefits, primarily by limiting eligibility. The Committee rejected an effort to make the cuts even steeper (by applying the draconian Ryan Budget cuts) but also rejected an effort to restore the SNAP cuts or use the lower level of $4 billion in cuts in the Senate Farm bill.

So, it not only appears that the Farm Bill will maintain the tax payer subsidies to big Ag, it will continue massive support for factory farms, unsustainable agriculture practices and punish low income families with cuts to food assistance. One more reason why we need a food revolution!

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One thought on “2012 Farm Bill rewards large agri-business, punishes small farmers and low income families

  1. You are correct in your assessment about the outrageous “Farm” Bill, which should be called the “Agribusiness Big Food” Bill. I am a dairy farmer, like all the others, facing insufficient cash flow (especially because of insane ethanol policy’s impact on the cost of feed grain!) because dairy farmers do not get paid enough by dairy co-operatives and Big Milk companies like Kraft, etc., BY FEDERAL LAW!!!!–(all part of the politics of dairy “Industry” vs. dairy “FARMERS,”) 90 % of dairy farmers have already been pushed out of business by these insane federal “dairy” policies. As far as paying farmers a fair raw milk price AT THE FARM, the co-ops and the name-brand processors are one and the same, playing the same screw the dairy farmers and consumers game! So, instead of changing existing legislation that now lets milk buyers pay dairy farmers below the cost to produce the milk– a shortfall made up by taxpayer funded direct “MILC” payments paid to dairy farmers to add a SMALL amount of the lost price revenue– in this crazy Farm Bill, Congress is going to force dairy farmers(by LAW!) to get “margin insurance” SUBSIDIZED BY TAXPAYERS!!!!! Can you believe the arrogant audacity for Collin Peterson (D-MN) and his dairy “industry” cronies to stick it to dairy farmers and consumers by tacking on more costs to taxpayers instead of making the milk BUYERS pay dairy farmers directly what raw milk really costs to produce at the farm? We have tried to fight this takeover by the Dairy INDUSTRY since April 1981 and are largely ignored as “Free Trade” deals determines US farm and food policies. Stabenow’s support for this is atrocious! A “food revolution” is long overdue!!!

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