The headline in a recent Wall Street Journal editorial read: “Paying for ethanol at the pump and on the plate.” It caught our eye for the fact that it doesn’t even pass the commonsense test. Gas prices are way down and projected to stay that way. So, too, are corn prices.
A financially healthy rural economy requires a financially healthy farm production sector. And that sector relies on a safety net when catastrophic events happen. It is a modest investment considering the return, which is a stable and affordable national food and fiber supply.
We have a strong foundation for cultivating the next generation of farmers in the 2014 Farm Bill, but the law needs to be fully implemented for any of this to matter. Although it is on the books for five years, it is likely to be under attack during the annual appropriations process.
Crop insurance products were improved in the recent farm bill because Congress recognized that these products are a necessity for farmers regardless of size. To me, a federally-supported crop insurance policy is defensible because a portion of the product’s cost is borne by the farmer.
In the midst of the spring planting season, a couple of farmers took to the opinion pages over the weekend to explain the importance of their primary risk management tool: crop insurance.
Some stereotypes about U.S. farm policy just won’t die. For example, the belief that farmers get paid for not growing; or that benefits just go to big agribusinesses; or that farm spending is out of control. Such criticisms make splashy headlines but are no longer relevant thanks to the significant evolution of farm policy over the past 20 years
“EWG has no credibility.” Farm Policy Facts has been saying this for years about the Environmental Working Group (EWG), and it looks like quite a few Capitol Hill leaders agree. The direct quote came from House Agriculture Committee ranking member Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), who spoke last week to The Hagstrom Report. Peterson was not alone in giving EWG a congressional smack down.
Maintaining a modest response to the cheaters by preserving U.S. farm policy is not only the right thing to do, it is also an essential means of maintaining support for trade and the only leverage the United States has in getting our trading partners to one day tear down the walls they have been so busy building.
There’s a reason the 2014 Farm Bill made crop insurance the centerpiece of U.S. farm policy. It is an effective risk management tool for not only farmers, but also taxpayers.