For Immediate Release
Contact: Laura Zaks
National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition
Release: New Grant Programs Offer Targeted Funding for Food Sovereignty and Local Processing
Washington, DC, May 10, 2023 – Today, a diverse group of taxpayer, agriculture, and environmental organizations held a press conference at the National Press Club to urge Congressional leaders to reject attempts to increase reference prices for covered commodity crops as Congress debates the farm bill. The organizations participating in the press conference included the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC), Environmental Working Group (EWG), Rural Coalition, FreedomWorks, National Taxpayers Union, Taxpayers Protection Alliance, Taxpayers for Common Sense, R-Street, and Farm Action.
“The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition stands with this alliance to oppose raising Price Loss Coverage reference prices in the 2023 Farm Bill, at a time when gross farm income is higher than ever. Taxpayer commodity program subsidies were designed as a safety net tool, triggered when necessary, to help protect against unpredictable losses that are part of farming — not an annual entitlement program for the country’s most successful farms,” said Billy Hackett, NSAC Policy Specialist.
“Roughly 10% of farms receive 70% of farm program subsidies and $90 billion in ad-hoc disaster assistance has been allocated to these producers above farm bill spending since 2017. Blindly throwing more money at a system that cannot sustain itself is no solution,” Hackett added. “NSAC’s vision for the 2023 Farm Bill is one where the farm safety net is made accessible to all producers requiring protection against worsening disasters while supporting proven on-farm risk management strategies that can reduce reliance on a safety net in the first place. Rather than applying a temporary bandage, investing in practices that improve soil health will expand farmer’s economic bottom lines, improve resilience against weather-related events, and reduce public safety net costs in the long-run.”
Scott Faber, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs at EWG said that “We need a farm safety net, and some farmers are struggling. But increasing the price guarantees in the Farm Bill will not help struggling farmers… These subsidies overwhelmingly flow to the largest and most successful farmers who – according to USDA – are enjoying farm household income of more than $1 million a year.”
Faber then pointed out that net income is near record levels, crop prices remain high (and well above the cost of farm production), farm equity is rising, and farm bankruptcies are at their lowest in recent memory. This is the true landscape of the farm economy, rather than simply cherry-picking the statistic that farm income is projected to fall next year from record highs. Large commodity farms who would receive almost all of these benefits are still projected to profit.
“Title 1 subsidy programs haven’t paid out [in recent years] because farmers have made money in the market. Their bottom lines show it,” said Josh Sewell, Senior Policy Analyst at Taxpayers for Common Sense. “The push to increase government mandated prices for a small number of crops handpicked by the farm bill writers would be laughable if it weren’t unconscionable. $32 trillion in debt. Potentially days from default. Yet some lawmakers, demanding austerity from everyone else, are looking to dig deeper into our pockets to replace markets with mandates for a few special interests. It’s not fiscally responsible.”
On May 1, 2023, these groups sent letters to the Chair and Ranking Members of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees opposing increases in reference prices.
About the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC)
The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition is a grassroots alliance that advocates for federal policy reform supporting the long-term social, economic, and environmental sustainability of agriculture, natural resources, and rural communities. Learn more and get involved at: https://sustainableagriculture.net
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Author: Laura Zaks
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