Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
March 31, 2015

Don’t be Fooled: Agribusiness is Clear Winner in New Farm Bill

David Dayen cautions not to be “fooled” by the alleged structural reforms to the new farm bill.

“While the parties argued about how much food to take away from poor people, it’s just as revealing to look at the area where they both agreed.”

“The politicians patting themselves on the back for repealing subsidies to farmers have found a surreptitious way to deposit these savings right back in the pocket of agribusiness. That’s because the farm bill will expand subsidies for crop insurance, which … actually hands over virtually the same amount of taxpayer money to farmers, mostly wealthy ones, as the old direct payment program.”

“The shift from direct payments to crop insurance ensures that those handouts can be distributed in a hidden, more politically palatable way, making it more difficult to ever dislodge them.”

“The current farm bill expands the [crop insurance] program to cost the government $90 billion over ten years, an increase of $7 billion.”

“Referring to beneficiaries as ‘farmers’ underplays how giant agribusinesses really benefit from subsidized crop insurance.”

In short: “The final farm bill supersizes [the crop insurance program] rather than dismantling it.”

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