In the wake of major proposed recent farm budget cuts as part of the Obama administration’s new deficit reduction program (“Living Within Our Means and Investing in the Future”) that will pull more than $33 billion in agriculture subsidies from the nations’ farmers, lawmakers and farm lobbyists are attempting to route that same money under a new name right back to the nation’s big-ag farmers rather than small-scale or family owned farms.
An October 17th New York Times article states that commodity wheat, corn, cotton and soybean crops—mainly grown by large scale (and genetically modified) farmers—were the focus of a House and Senate proposed recommendation that would benefit the farmers already dominating the American agricultural system.
Calling it a “subsidy swap,” lawmakers aim to allocate some $23 billion of those same budget cuts back to the big-ag industry in unspecified cuts over 10 years. According to Vincent H. Smith, a professor of farm economics at Montana State University, who spoke to the Times, the maneuver is a bait and switch.
“There’s a persistent story that farming is on the edge of catastrophe in America and that’s why they need safety nets that other people don’t get,” he said. “And the reality is that it’s really a very healthy industry.”
The health of the farming industry can be seen particularly in the rapid growth of the domineering genetically modified seed industry as well as the booming ethanol industry that uses almost 40 percent of the nation’s corn.
Critical of the subsidies, small farm advocates say these budget cuts and rerouted funds do little to support struggling family farmers. The Environmental Working Group collated data that showed the top ten percent of direct payment recipients in 2010 collected nearly 60 percent of the budget.
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