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Farm Bill deficit deal must include real reform, says Center for Rural Affairs

In response to a letter from congressional Agriculture Committee leadership recommending a $23 billion farm spending cut, the Center for Rural Affairs urged that a portion of the savings come from ending the single most wasteful and counterproductive feature of current farm policy - unlimited federal crop and revenue insurance subsidies to the nation's largest farms and wealthiest landowners.

"Any serious reform of federal farm programs must cap federal crop and revenue insurance subsidies to mega farms," said Chuck Hassebrook, executive director of the Center for Rural Affairs. "They are the most expensive element of farm programs, costing $7 billion annually. And if one big corporation farmed all of America, USDA would pay 60 percent of its insurance premiums every year on every acre for protection from low prices and crop failure."

Hassebrook explained that the nation's largest farms will continue to use unlimited premium subsidies to drive smaller operation out of business.

"Why should the federal government pay 60 percent of crop insurance premiums on every acre of the largest farms in America in the midst of record high farm income and record federal deficits," asked Hassebrook?

Hassebrook also pointed out that loopholes in the cap on other farm payments must also be closed. Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Tim Johnson (D-SD) have introduced legislation to close those loopholes, but it is not incorporated in any proposal from either Congress or the White House to date.

The Center for Rural Affairs called on Congress and on the Administration to stand up to powerful mega-farm interests, cap their subsidies and reinvest the savings in rural development programs that support small business and beginning farmers and ranchers, create jobs for ordinary rural Americans and build a more vibrant future for small town America.

Established in 1973, the Center for Rural Affairs is a private, non-profit organization working to strengthen small businesses, family farms and ranches, and rural communities.