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Why Not Cut Out Wasteful Subsidies to Corporate Farms & Restore Conservation Funds?

Back to Home Tuesday, Oct 25, 2005

Posted on Mon, Oct. 24, 2005


€ Agriculture € Science € US News From: < Fort Wayne News Sentinel - Fort Wayne,IN,USA

Cut subsidies to restore conservation funds

Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service

The following editorial appeared in the Lexington Herald-Leader on Friday, October 21:

We're relieved the Senate agriculture committee didn't try to make poor Americans go hungry to subsidize agribusiness. But poor people will go hungry in the rest of the world because of swollen subsidies for large producers of corn, soybeans, wheat and cotton in this country.

The Senate committee's plan also leaves U.S. taxpayers stuck paying for a dubious system that lavishes millions of dollars on the largest operations while driving small farms out of business.

Europe's agriculture subsidies are even fatter than this country's.

As a result, Third World farmers can't compete because the West's subsidized crops are artificially cheap. With no export ability, the agriculture sector withers, farmers move to cities for work and struggling countries become even less able to feed their own people.

Forces on the political right and left, including President Bush, agree that the United States and European Union should drastically shrink agriculture subsidies. But farm subsidies enjoy sacred-cow status in Congress. So much so that Senate agriculture Chairman Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., was ready to slash the food stamp program rather than make deep cuts in the multimillion-dollar payments to some large agriculture operations.

The Senate is trying to cut $3 billion in agriculture spending.

The committee backed off the plan to slash food stamps. And that's good. But the committee's plan forces conservation to bear a disproportionate share of the cuts. Conservation programs pay farmers to put environmentally sensitive lands out of production and to implement pollution controls to protect water from runoff of chemicals, fertilizers and animal waste.

Conservation payments are available to more farmers than subsidy payments. Conservation serves a broad public good.

The Senate should amend the committee's plan by restoring conservation funds by making deeper cuts in subsidies.