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Center for Rural Affairs Urges Senate To Amend Farm Bill

LYONS, Neb. – Today the Center for Rural Affairs called upon Senate Agriculture Committee members to adopt crucial amendments to the Farm Bill proposal currently before the committee. They are expected to begin debate on amendments today, Wednesday, April 25th.

“Unfortunately, the farm bill proposal before the Senate Ag Committee slashes investment in rural small business development and value-added agriculture while increasing crop insurance subsidies for some of the nation’s largest farms and wealthiest landowners. There are opportunities to fix some of these issues right now, while the Committee debates amendments to the bill,” said Traci Bruckner of the Center for Rural Affairs.

According to Bruckner, the amendment* offered by Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE) is an important first step. It would deny farm subsidies to individuals with taxable income over $500,000 and married couples making over $1 million. The money saved would be invested in revitalizing rural communities through small business development, beginning farmer programs, value added agriculture and assistance for small towns in updating water and sewer systems.

Likewise, Bruckner stated that the amendment offered by Senator John Thune (R-SD), Senator Mike Johanns (R-NE), Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE) and Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) helps reverse the perverse incentive in current farm policy to break up marginal, erosion prone grasslands.

“Their amendment limits crop insurance benefits and premium subsidies for crops grown on native sod or land that a producer cannot verify has ever been tilled,” Bruckner continued.

As the Senate Agriculture Committee begins debating the next farm bill, they will undertake consideration of over 100 amendments offered by members of the committee. According to Bruckner, this is a time when much of the direction of the Senate Farm Bill will be determined.

“Moreover, in today’s economy it is more important than ever that the Senate make wise choices,” said Bruckner.

She further explained that under current and proposed farm policy, if one corporation farmed an entire state – her home state of Nebraska, for example – then the federal government would pay 60 percent of its crop insurance premiums on every acre, every year, even in times of record profits.

“This does not reflect rural America’s priorities or our values. We face a simple choice, either lavish subsidies on mega-farms, or, invest in rural America’s future. The best choice is obvious,” Bruckner added. “And there will never be a more important time for rural Americans to let their Senators know how they come down on that choice than right now.”