Don’t Drown Taxpayers with Drought Debt

Yesterday we posted a letter from conservative organizations opposed to passing the massive, trillion-dollar farm bill to address this summer’s drought. In reality, just 0.2% ($2 billion) out of the $955 billion House version ($967 billion Senate version), would go towards disaster programs.

The other $953/$965 billion would go towards other farm subsidies and food stamps; in fact, 80% of the bills’ spending goes towards food stamps. But that isn’t stopping lawmakers from attempting to pass the entire bill and claim it is necessary in order to help farmers through the terrible yet predictable drought.

Bad weather happens every year, which is why farmers purchase government-subsidized crop insurance.

Taxpayers for Commonsense released a paper detailing the ridiculousness of forcing taxpayers to pay over a trillion dollars to provide farmers with additional drought coverage, when taxpayers are already paying for their current crop insurance:

“Other than crying foul, the disaster programs’ champions have not articulated a need for spending more taxpayer money on risks that the heavily subsidized crop insurance program is already designed to address. Taxpayers currently pick up about 60% of the cost of farmers’ crop insurance premium payments. A farm bill does not have to pass for farmers to continue to receive automatic indemnity payments or taxpayer subsidies again next spring when they sign up for crop insurance. These five programs expired in 2011, so livestock producers went into this year knowing they might not be renewed. Livestock producers can also still qualify for taxpayer subsidized crop insurance policies addressing declining market prices and gross margins or enroll in a non-insured assistance program.”

Taxpayers already pay tens of billions of dollars every year to protect corporate farm profits. No other industry in the country is afforded that luxury. Arguing that we need to lock that reckless behavior into law for the next five years is irresponsible, especially since it doesn’t deal with the proclaimed “need” for emergency drought relief.

If lawmakers feel the need to pass an emergency drought package, then let’s have that conversation – what’s appropriate for livestock, crops, etc. – but Congress should not use it as an excuse to pass another reckless bill.

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