This week I will blog on the Food Stamp program as I speak about the New Deal and War on Poverty safety net programs that Clinton neo-liberals have excelled at dismantling more than Republicans. I want people to see the original intent of this progressive program and then see how corporations and the rich distorted it and made it a cash cow for corporate profit and dismantled the effectiveness of the program for the public.
Food Stamps were to replace the system of Poor Farms and Prison labor by giving Americans a safety net that kept them from the desperation of being unable to feed families. This was progressive because it sought to remove a very repressive Poor Farm that kept people trapped in poverty and replaced it with a program that gave families some stability with the chance of bettering their prospects. Again, FDR did this as a way to redistribute all the wealth taken from the public through massive corporate fraud that gave us the Great Depression----and rebuild the public's wealth and well-being on the backs of higher corporate and wealth taxes bringing back the loot! THAT'S WHAT A PROGRESSIVE POLICY DOES.
Great Depression/Food Stamp Program
After World War I the world fell into what is now called the Great Depression. It was a time of great economic loss that effected the raising generation for their entire lives. People lost all their money from the banks, there were no jobs, and people went hungry because they could not buy food. (Hall T.E., Ferguson J., 2011)
One vivid, gruesome moment of those dark days we shall never forget. We saw a crowd of some fifty men fighting over a barrel of garbage which had been set outside the back door of a restaurant. American Citizens fighting for scraps of food like animals!-Louise Armstrong, describing an incident she witnessed in Chicago in the spring of 1932 (Hall T.E., Ferguson J. pg. 1.)
Food was very scarce during the depression. In The Giving of Food the author tells about a meal during the depression. In the story his grandmother is about six years old, during this time the adults ate first, she was so hungry that instead of waiting for her turn to eat she stole a chicken leg. He then compares it to meal today in which she cooks an overabundance of food and ensures that everybody has eaten enough. Today, most people in the U.S. have plenty to eat but during the depression this was not the case. People often went hungry, food was prized. Today we have such abundance that we take it for granted. People who were raised during the depression still prize food. Like the author’s grandmother that fear of going hungry, of your loved ones going without stays with then. Food and nourishment is seen as a token of love. (Crenshaw, P. 2007).
The effects of needing to save and going without has affected not only the people that grew up during the depression but their descendants as well. When the elderly have passed on they leave belongings that they have collected from fear of not having enough. These collections can be of aluminum foil, paper, or even food. Imagine going thru your loved ones house and finding cans of food that are 5 or 10 years old because they won’t throw them away due to fear they may one day need that food.(USA Today Magazine)
Eleanor Roosevelt felt strongly about saving money while her husband was the president. The meals that she and President Roosevelt ate were cost effective as well as nutritious. In order to ensure the meals where nutritious she obtained advice from the home-economics department at Cornell University. This project was to show to the United States citizens that you could have low cost meals without worrying about nutrients. In order to further this cause she also showed that you can produce great meals from homemade food instead of store brought food. (Shapiro, L. 2010)
Unfortunately for FDR, Eleanor was not worried about taste. You can have very tasty low cost foods but Eleanor was more worried about the nutritious and economic values of the meals. The meals at the white house became notorious for their bland and unappealing taste. Today of course taste is very important to the American consumer, most especially in healthy foods. (Shapiro, L. 2010)
One program to help people in these hard times was the Food Stamp Plan. This program allowed produce that was sitting on farms to be distributed to those who could not afford to eat. The way the system worked was that the person would purchase an orange stamp and would them be given blue stamps for free that would cover the cost of the surplus food. This program ended in 1943 but there are still many forms of food assistance for America’s poor. (Landers, P. S. 2007).
I like this description of the history of Food Stamps as a progressive issue because it shows how FDR created this policy not wanting it to become a hand-out----but a hand up. This article mentions Clinton and his Welfare to Work---but it does not tie Clinton to creating the highest unemployment since the Great Depression with global market neo-liberalism. While Clinton pretended to be getting people back to work ------he was doing the opposite. THAT IS NOT PROGRESSIVE. But, FDR feeling that progressive programs should lift people gave us THE NATIONAL PUBLIC WORKS PROGRAM that did the opposite of Clinton----it actually created millions of jobs for people and gave them the opportunity to get off the dole. These were good paying jobs----and jobs in all fields----and they actually repaired the nation from the effects of the Great Depression all funded by the high taxation on corporations and the rich bringing back the massive fraudulent gains.
So, counter to what Republicans want to tell us---progressive programs when they work right lift people---they do not allow them to stagnate in poverty as happened when the rich and corporations started to attack these programs. What was the first attack to a healthy progressive program----attaching it to a Farm Bill that grew to be a subsidy for Big AG----with all of the food as foreign aid.
Why is SNAP Part of the Farm Bill?
June 28, 2013
by Joel Berg Moyers
A long line of jobless and homeless men wait outside to get free dinner at New York's Municipal Lodging House in the winter of 1932-33 during the Great Depression. (AP Photo)
During the Great Depression, Americans foraged through garbage cans for food and dug in public parks to find roots they could eat. Parents reluctantly sent their children door-to-door to beg. Ninety-five people were admitted to New York City’s four largest hospitals due to starvation in 1931. Twenty of them died. That same year, the Municipal Lodging House for the homeless provided 408,100 lodgings and 1,024,247 meals. A year later, in 1932, it provided 889,984 lodgings and 2,688,266 meals, at a time when the entire New York City population was only 6.9 million people.
Relief agencies nationwide lost their ability to prevent starvation. Local governments, expected to fund relief efforts themselves, began running out of money to do so. In May 1932, the average relief grant in Philadelphia (out of which people were expected to pay for food and all other basic expenses) was cut to $4.32 per family per week, equaling about $62 per week in today’s money. In New York City, the average weekly relief grant fell to $2.39 (about $35 in today’s money). Baltimore gave needy families an average of 80 cents and Atlanta provided 60 cents per week for whites and less for blacks.
The nation was near the point of revolution. At times, armed men would go into stores in large groups to demand credit and, when refused, take food anyway. The term “food riot” became popular in the press.
Adding fuel to the fire was the country’s glut of unused food. Neither farmers nor factory workers had the money to buy each others’ products. Oklahoma union activist and editor Oscar Ameringer wrote: “The farmers are being pauperized by the poverty of the industrial populations and the industrial populations are being pauperized by the poverty of the farmers.”
Today it seems obvious to most of us that government should have purchased some of the excess agricultural products and distributed them to the hungry, but at the time, opposition to government involvement in social welfare, as well as the belief in the unlimited abilities of American charities, was deeply ingrained in American thought. The idea of the government buying food and distributing it for free seemed radical, particularly to the Republicans in charge of the nation. In 1931, when Democratic leader William McAdoo suggested that surplus wheat be distributed to the unemployed, President Herbert Hoover rejected the idea, saying, “I am confident that the hungry and unemployed will be cared for by our sense of voluntary organization and community service.” Ironically, Hoover had first become nationally known in America for his effective leadership in providing aid to starving Europeans following World War I, but he couldn’t accept the reality that his beloved United States needed that same type of help.
“I am confident that the hungry and unemployed will be cared for by our sense of voluntary organization and community service.” -Herbert HooverAs America’s crisis worsened, Hoover would not budge in his opposition to domestic relief. In a 1932 speech, he decried government aid, saying: “A cold and distant charity which puts out its sympathy only through the tax collector yields only a meager dole of unloving and perfunctory relief.” He was clearly blind to the fact that millions of Americans on the verge of starvation would have been grateful for any sort of food aid, no matter how unloving and perfunctory. Two days before the election of 1932, which he lost in a landslide to Franklin D. Roosevelt, Hoover declared himself unable to “find a single locality where people are being deprived of food or shelter.”
Hoover was the nation’s first significant right-wing hunger denier. It is no wonder a conservative think tank, the Hoover Institution, is named after him. But he was not alone in his opposition to government food aid. Wealthy people who dominated the boards of charities complained that providing food aid would promote dependency and that private charity was more efficient than government aid. Even progressive social workers believed that food aid “was an antiquated form of relief, inconsistent with modern social work practice and the dignity of the client.”
Yet the severity of the crisis eventually sunk in for many of our nation’s leaders, and necessity trumped ideology, as even staunch Republican Congressman Hamilton Fish supported a proposal to have the government buy excess wheat for distribution to the poor, saying, “It is a disgrace and an outrage that this country of ours, with overabundance of food stuffs, should permit millions of our own people to continue to be undernourished and hungry.” Citing instances in which Congress had aided the victims of disasters abroad, Fish argued that the “first function of government is to take care of its own people in time of great emergency.” Permitting people to starve, he declared, was “creating a hotbed for communism.”
When Roosevelt took office, the controversy over whether to support food aid versus other kinds of aid remained unsettled. His agriculture department received widespread and withering criticism for slaughtering and then discarding hogs in order to reduce supply. In response, FDR ordered the department to start distributing the meat to the hungry.
Today’s liberals tend to forget that FDR repeatedly opposed giving out free money and food without requiring work (especially when they blasted Bill Clinton for supposedly betraying the New Deal tradition by supporting welfare reform). Roosevelt said direct relief was “a narcotic, a subtle destroyer of the human spirit.” Instead of continuing to sponsor a “spiritual and moral disintegration fundamentally destructive to the national fiber,” he said, the government must find work for those in need and able to work. “We must preserve not only the bodies of the employed from destruction but also their self-respect, their self-reliance and courage and determination. Therefore, the Federal government must and shall quit this business of relief.”
A pragmatist who sometimes contradicted himself in order to solve pressing national problems, Roosevelt also significantly expanded the efforts — begun in the previous administration, against Hoover’s will -- to distribute free commodities to low-income Americans. FDR included other goods in addition to wheat and significantly increased the volume of surplus food purchased and distributed by the federal government.
FDR also supported creation of the first Food Stamp Program, in 1938. The program operated by permitting people on relief to buy orange stamps equal to their normal food expenditures; for every one dollar worth of orange stamps purchased, 50 cents worth of blue stamps were received. Orange stamps could be used to buy any food; blue stamps could only be used to buy food determined by the Department of Agriculture to be surplus. Over the course of nearly four years, the program reached approximately 20 million people in nearly half of the nation’s counties, and cost a total of $262 million (about three billion dollars in 2006 dollars).
So that is the story of how food aid was tied to farm aid from the start. Today, though many rural and suburban people rely on federal nutrition assistance programs (such as SNAP), they’re perceived as urban programs. Thus, they’ve remained in Farm Bills in order to try to win votes from urban members of Congress. House Republicans now want to separate SNAP from the Farm Bill in order to make it easier to make cuts.
In my opinion, farm bills should be classified as “food bills” and SNAP should continue to be part of them. Food producers and consumers are mutually dependent upon each other. When so many Americans are low-income and hungry or food insecure, that limits the amount of money they can spend on food, thus limiting income for food producers. When producers can’t afford to stay on their land or face environmental threats, it threatens the availability of nutritious, fresh food for New York consumers. A true food bill would aid hungry Americans and small family farmers alike.
As we look at where the Farm Bill and Food Stamps went after FDR installed the program----let's look at where we are today as Congress seeks to end Food Stamps as they push to install Trans Pacific Trade Pact. To get there we need to look at how US agriculture went from small farms with an excess of food------to BIG AG becoming a global industrial food corporation.
For those not knowing that Trans Pacific Trade Pact seeks to curb large sectors of public food subsidy -----this is indeed what Obama and Clinton neo-liberals have partnered with Bush neo-cons to do. So, developing nations with large numbers of poor that receive large government food subsidies are being pressured by the US through TPP to end these subsidies. This is what ending the Food Stamp policy has as a goal in the US to meet these terms of TPP. Developing nations like India know the devastation ending Food subsidy would bring and have so far opted out of TPP as other Asian nations do the same for the same reasons.
Meanwhile, Congress pretends to be fighting over ending Food Stamps with Obama trying his hardest to Fast Track Trans Pacific Trade Pact which will require food subsidies by limited. So, this issue is not driven by Republicans---it is driven by TPP......a Clinton neo-liberal/Bush neo-con policy.
'India might not need to spend $19 billion this year alone to feed its poor, critics say, if it ran existing programs more efficiently'.
Let's see------India has how many citizens as compared with US and they think $19 billion in food subsidy is too much? REALLY?????
Of course a third world nation has inefficiencies and corruption in distributing food but the crime is that it is allowed to rot before getting to people. With over a billion people almost all poor can anyone believe there is a glut in food subsidy in India!
India Clings to Disputed Food Subsidies
Narendra Modi's Washington Visit Didn't End Dispute Over Country's $19 Billion Food Aid Program
A villager in Charch, Madhya Pradesh, washes wheat she acquired through the government's food subsidy program.
Junho Kim for The Wall Street Journal
BAGLAUN, India—As a laborer in remote central India, Dheeraj Yadav struggles to feed an extended family of 10 on the less than $2 he earns whenever he finds a day's work tilling local corn and millet fields.
The 45-year-old and his clan are the kind of people India's government had in mind decades ago when it created a massive food-welfare system now at the center of an international trade spat.
India insists that it needs the unfettered ability to subsidize its farmers and stockpile food for its needy and malnourished citizens, but that stance is threatening to roll back decades of progress on global trade agreements.
The tussle has weighed on U.S.-India relations. This week's highly anticipated meeting between President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Narendra Modi didn't resolve the dispute.
The standoff has cast unflattering light on India's food programs themselves, which for years have been dogged by waste, corruption and bureaucratic fumbling. India might not need to spend $19 billion this year alone to feed its poor, critics say, if it ran existing programs more efficiently.
Mr. Yadav, for instance, says that for months he hasn't been able to buy the subsidized wheat and rice he is entitled to. He says local officials demand bribes in exchange for the slip of paper that would show he qualifies for the program.
"They ask for money to make a ration card," he said. "But where do I have the money to give them?"
India in July blocked passage of a World Trade Organization deal aimed at harmonizing customs rules and easing international commerce, saying it first wants guarantees that it won't face WTO limits on its purchases of grain for food-distribution programs. Because these purchases are made at above-market prices, they risk breaching WTO ceilings on subsidies that encourage overproduction and thereby distort trade.
"We chose to serve the poor," Mr. Modi said at a national meeting of his Bharatiya Janata Party in August. "And the WTO agreement deviates from this purpose."
Villagers in Madhya Pradesh state wash wheat acquired through a government program meant to provide food to the poor. Junho Kim for The Wall Street Journal
WTO negotiators began meeting in mid-September to try to resolve the conflict. The Geneva-based body is expected to report on its progress Monday. At stake, some officials say, are the very foundations of the nearly 20-year-old WTO system. Restrictions on farm subsidies have long been unpopular in developing and developed countries alike. But only India has pushed to change them almost unilaterally, an approach officials say threatens the WTO's consensus-based decision-making process.
Roberto Azevedo, the WTO's director-general, said in a speech last week that the stalemate on subsidies has had a "freezing effect" on the body's work on other issues as well. "All WTO negotiations will be at risk if the current impasse is not solved," he said.
The programs India is fighting to defend have a troubled record at home. According to government data and calculations by Reetika Khera, an economist at the Indian Institute of Technology in New Delhi, less than 60% of the grain procured under the program reached its intended beneficiaries in the year ended June 2012.
The crop purchases are popular with India's farmers. But they have brought in more food—65 million tons at the beginning of September—than India can comfortably manage in its granaries, which are scattered across the country and managed by a network of state and federal agencies. Warehouses in grain-producing regions sometimes overflow while those elsewhere sit half-empty. What doesn't move often rots in storage.
Rice and wheat that does reach India's hundreds of thousands of villages can get held up in other ways. Local officials are responsible for managing the lists of eligible households and distributing the grain to village shops. In parts of the country, allegations of bribery and theft are common.
In the village of Baglaun, 60-year-old Pateshi Yadav —no relation to Dheeraj—says the local shop regularly shortchanges him and his family on their entitled rations. "When we go to buy grain, you should come with us and check," he said. "They always give us less than we're supposed to get."
At a WTO meeting in March, the U.S. presented a two-page briefing on its own experiences with farm subsidies, saying that for much of the 20th century, it too stockpiled grain to support growers' incomes and protect them from price shocks. But beginning in the 1970s, the paper said, "difficult political decisions were made to reform an agricultural policy that was ineffective, costly and difficult to administer."
The Indian delegation was "nonplussed," according to a person present at the meeting. This person paraphrased India's reaction as: "Nobody has asked to hear this paper. Why are you even putting it in front of us?"
Legislation passed last year expands India's food program to cover a majority of the country's 1.2 billion people. The new system streamlines the way eligibility is determined, removing a layer of bureaucracy where dysfunction had caused the poor to be excluded from benefits.
In Baglaun and the nearby villages, however, the transition has been rickety. S.P.S. Kushwaha, the district food-security officer, acknowledges the district government is "way behind target" in implementing the new system. He said he has received complaints from people who say they have no access to subsidized food as they wait for new ration cards. But he denied any corruption in the issuance of cards.
O.P. Rajput, the local revenue officer, says that sometimes, for reasons unknown to him, not enough grain reaches the district to be distributed in the needed quantities. But he too said ration cards have been properly handed out.
"Everyone in this area has this habit of saying they haven't received their cards," Mr. Rajput said. "But it's never the case. Even if they had everything, they would still say they had nothing."
For those not knowing the history of US BIG AG----it started with tying US agriculture to US Food Stamp programs and then to US school lunch programs----this was a good thing and started by moving fresh food grown locally to feed the poor and children and morphed into food being sent to communities around the nation from what had become consolidated farming creating huge agriculture businesses. So, grown locally to serviced by US BIG AG.....see how this good program soon was hijacked to maximize corporate profits?
Then came using food for neo-liberal and neo-conservative global expansion of US corporations and that gave us International Food Aid. So, now US BIG AG was super-sized to feed the world all on the taxpayer's dime. So, BIG AG is now subsidized by Food Stamps for the Poor, public school lunches and breakfast----AND FEEDING THE WORLD. Note that everyone at the time as today kept saying GROWING FOOD IN THESE DEVELOPING NATIONS WOULD BE THE PROGRESSIVE THING TO DO----but BIG AG was not about progressive----it was about growing global corporations and wealth. FOOD AID became the reason to create the global corporation MONSANTO all to make crops bigger and replacing the agriculture of the world with industrialized food. THAT IS NOT PROGRESSIVE.
So, the politicians in the mid-west and California pushing this consolidating of small farms into the hands of a few called themselves progressive Democrats when they are actually Clinton global corporate neo-liberals. Expansion of Food Aid soared during the 1980s and 1990s of Reagan/Clinton as part of mainstreaming neo-liberalism.
Why are Republicans worried about monetization of food this late in the game? As Clinton neo-liberals and Bush neo-cons push Trans Pacific Trade Pact they are killing the humanitarian aid aspect of Food Aid and ending public food subsidy. At the same time----US BIG AG is now buying all of the fertile land overseas as global warming and empty aquifers in the US ends the ability to grow industrial food. Republicans want that food aid funding to go overseas to the developing nations receiving food aid because that is where US BIG AG has gone global and owns land -----to send food to the US as imports. Meanwhile, reports that the developing world citizens are being used in slavery for US BIG AG. The US will now import its food instead of being the bread basket of the world.
Farm bill makes modest international food aid reforms
January 29, 2014
By Ben Grossman-Cohen
Rice distributed and sold in Liberia.
Photo: Ruby Wright/Oxfam International
The US food aid system is crucial to the global fight against hunger, especially in the wake of a disaster or in the midst of a food crisis. Each year, our programs reach millions of hungry people with lifesaving aid—and, with the right reforms, they could reach millions more.
This week, Congress took steps to make some of those vital reforms. The US House of Representatives has voted to pass a new five year farm bill agreement struck with the Senate. In response to the bill’s passage Eric Munoz, senior policy advisor for Oxfam America, said:
“The farm bill agreement shows that the sun is setting on outdated, wasteful regulations on international food aid programs. We commend Chairman Stabenow and other members of the farm bill Conference Committee for their leadership in achieving modest first steps to reform international food aid programs that will help more life-saving aid reach hungry people in crisis without costing taxpayers one extra penny.
“In the face of emergencies like Typhoon Haiyan, the humanitarian crisis in Syria and rising costs for food and transport, international food aid programs need much greater flexibility in order to be effective and save lives. Last year the House of Representatives came just a few votes short of passing an amendment to the farm bill sponsored by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Royce (R-CA) that would have gone further to reform food aid. Sadly, special interests continue to wield undue influence to block more ambitious change. This deal represents real progress from the 2007 Farm Bill and is a stepping stone for comprehensive reforms that we expect will be included in the President’s budget later this year.”
Food aid reforms in the Farm Bill conference agreement include:
1. A pilot program created in the 2008 farm bill to study the effectiveness of purchasing food aid locally and regionally will be continued as a full program with modestly increased funding to $80 million per year. Locally and regionally purchased food aid has been shown to be cheaper and more effective in many circumstances. This provision could help reach more than 1.8 million additional people with life-saving aid at no additional cost to taxpayers.
2. Efforts are made to reduce the “monetization” of food aid whereby food aid is dumped on developing country markets, a wasteful way to raise funds for long term development projects.
BELOW YOU SEE WHERE THE FARM BILL MOVED TO USING PROGRESSIVE ISSUES AS A SCAPE-GOAT FOR KILLING THE ENVIRONMENT, SMALL FARMS, AND MOVED FOOD STAMPS FROM BEING A PROGRESSIVE ISSUE FOR FEEDING THE POOR TO BEING USED AS A THREAT FOR MAINTAINING BAD CORPORATE SUBSIDY FOR BIG AG.
As Clinton and neo-liberals became biofuels and Monsanto----progressive liberals lost protection for Food Stamps as a progressive issue.
As we moved from Food Stamps tied to the Farm Bill because it was a progressive program that fed the American poor----to the Farm Bill being public subsidy of BIG AG----Food Stamps attached to the Farm Bill was used as a way for BIG AG to keep these subsidies because if subsidies were cut so too would Food Stamps be cut. This transition happened as Clinton neo-liberals became Monsanto and industrial food global markets and the Federal subsidy became ridiculous----but there was Food Stamps needing to be protected so Clinton neo-liberals began agreeing to the worst of BIG AG subsidy under the guise of protecting Food Stamps.
Below you see where Federally subsidized agriculture was so big that BIG AG could not lose profits----they were paid not to farm----they were paid if bad weather caused crop damage----they were paid even as a Wall Street commodities market was manipulated to make crop prices soar while crop damage brought high Federal protection subsidies. BIG AG was getting subsidy two ways especially if crops failed.
With all of this global industrial food market taking BIG AG to global BIG AG----there was no need to use Food Stamps to subsidize BIG AG so now corporate pols began shouting that Food Stamps needed to go. Republicans started this mantra but it was Obama taking on the Bush Trans Pacific and Atlantic Trade Pact that moved the Clinton neo-liberals into the business of ending Food Stamps. Trans Pacific Trade Pact seeks to end public subsidy for food----Obama and Clinton are working to get India, Africa, Indonesia to stop what for developing nations is a critical food subsidy program all because food is now a commodity and Monsanto is the big industrial food corporation wanting these profits. So, we hear Republicans shouting to end Food Stamps----while Clinton neo-liberals are trying to make it happen world-wide.
What Part of RFS Corn-Ethanol, Biodiesel Mandates Should Count Toward Farmer Support?
June 15, 2013 02:04 AM via a special arrangement with Informa Economics, Inc.
Battle over who gets what surfaces with gusto, as corn and soybean lobbyists, and EWG target target prices'; Corn, soybean lobbyists charged with 'fracturing' the ag coalition
NOTE: This column is copyrighted material, therefore reproduction or retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.
Corn and soybean grower lobbyists have been out in force in the days before what is expected to be a House floor debate on the farm bill the week of June 17.
Those two groups released a letter recently (link) focusing on target price levels contained in the House farm bill, but their specific focus behind the scenes has been on higher target price levels for rice and peanuts.
And the groups' lobbyists have worked with strange bedfellows who usually are their antagonists – the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a group a Wall Street Journal article labeled as, "a liberal advocacy group that is tracking government spending on the agriculture industry."
WSJ enters the fray. On Friday evening, the Wall Street Journal Online posted an article titled, A Rice Gets a Price Premium; Farm-Bill Subsidy Sets High Floor for a Type Grown by Lawmaker Who Pushed It. Link to article. The article notes that "The federal subsidy in the House bill guarantees farmers of Japonica Rice that if market prices drop below 115 percent of the average price of all types of rice, they will get a government payment to make up the difference. Japonica is the formal name for medium- and short-grain rice strains commonly called sticky rice."
"What industry would have the temerity to demand that the government guarantee a price?" Scott Faber, a vice president at EWG, is quoted as saying. "Sushi rice costs more to produce, but it yields more per acre, and costs more to buy," he said. "This is like guaranteeing a price for the iPhone 5."
Faber and EWG have also been very vocal opponents of crop insurance subsidies, but the corn and soybean lobbyists have chosen to look the other way at this time in their effort to slash target price levels in the House farm bill – a movement that has led some observers to bring up other, significant acreage and demand incentives that corn and soybean growers get outside farm bill taxpayer subsides. These include a significant mandate for corn-based ethanol via the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), a mandate which has clearly led to the planting of far more corn acres than occurred before the mandate became law, and some from acres previously grown to other crops. Ditto for the biodiesel mandate's impact on soybeans and plantings.
One farm policy analyst said, "Faber is the same guy the Wall Street Journal quoted from EWG who previously led the effort at GMA (Grocery Manufacturers Association) to repeal the RFS. And he is now leading the effort to place all kinds of limits on crop insurance, such as gross income caps, etc. Those are two big if not biggest issues for the corn growers, and Faber is leading the charge against them, yet the corn grower lobbyists choose to deal with him/them on target prices/Price Loss Coverage. Unbelievable!"
The corn lobby effort comes at a time when the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), and in particular the corn-ethanol mandate, is under focus in Congress. Some congressional sources signal that if the festering farm bill issues continue, this could aid RFS opponents in picking up 60 votes in the Senate via lawmakers upset over corn and soybean politics on the farm bill.
The corn and soybean lobbyists, along with some Senate Ag Committee members and staff, have frequently cited papers by the Univ. of Illinois and Ohio State University in support of the Senate-favored revenue-assurance program called Ag Risk Coverage (ARC) or shallow loss payments. Opponents of that approach say it is a free crop insurance program designed in part to garner some of the lost direct payments that are eliminated via both the Senate-passed and pending House farm bills. This at a time, opponents say, when corn and soybean growers in recent years have had record to near record net cash income and the US national debt is approaching $17 trillion. From a farm policy standpoint, opponents of the ARC/shallow loss payments say it will not be an effective farmer safety net if the ag industry experiences multiple years of very low prices.
Comments: Some sources speculate that the corn and soybean lobbyist effort is likely tied to getting leverage for a forthcoming farm bill conference, perhaps fearing that revenue assurance program funding (ARC/shallow loss payments) may have to be shaved to accommodate more funding cuts relative to the Senate-passed farm bill.
A Politico article late Sunday evening notes that, "The House opens debate Tuesday on a new five-year farm bill with Republicans encouraged by their vote count but faced with continued infighting among commodity groups over the shape of future subsidies. To the surprise of many, the powerful corn and soybean lobbies are backing a Midwest floor challenge to the new price-loss program crafted by the House Agriculture Committee, which is already struggling to win what’s expected to be a close vote on final passage." The item notes the risky approach taken by corn and soybean grower lobbyists, saying "Left out of the corn and beans letter is any mention of the fact that the same two commodities stand to gain richly from a far more expensive 'shallow-loss' subsidy program in the Senate bill. With much of agriculture holding hands just to get across the House floor, the hardball tactics are risky." The article quoted Randy Russell, a former USDA official who now heads up a Washington-based consulting firm, as saying the corn and soybean groups "have every right to do this, but it is clearly not constructive. Many in the ag industry — including ourselves — are working very hard trying to get sufficient votes to pass the bill on the House floor. They are focused on an issue which fractures the coalition." The article (link) said Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), who will manage the bill with House Ag Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.), sounded upbeat Saturday. "In the end, I think we will be fine," he told Politico. "But if the farm bill collapses, it’s very unlikely that Congress will again approve a broad extension of current law as it did last winter."
So what about the headline of this column? Well, there is no answer to that yet because until now farm groups did not want to openly address it...some do now because of the corn/soybean attacks on other farm programs. And those outside the industry are just now mentioning the topic. So this debate is just starting, which is the point: corn and soybean lobbyists have opened up a topic they should have avoided – a topic fueled by taking potshots at a regional program designed to serve as a more effective safety net for some southern-based crops in hopes they can transition to an even better safety net in the years to come. And by corn and soybean grower lobbyists joining those from the EWG and elsewhere, those "partners" for change want to change other areas like crop insurance and pay cap changes via the banner of "reform." Bottom line: revenge is an emotion, not a policy. But some very important policies for corn and soybean growers may come under the microscope ahead – not just this bill but in years and other legislative initiatives to come. Count on it. For example, some observers have already noted that the recent rerating via crop insurance programs should be reevaluated to take into consideration the huge corn grower payouts in recent years – that the huge corn grower payments into the system over the past decade can be significantly tempered by just a few years of huge payments like in recent years.
The reason Congress had to 'reform' the Farm Bill and crop insurance was that much of farm protection was subsidy and not insurance. TPP does not allow subsidy-----but moving the subsidy under the window of insurance----A BIG GLOBAL BUSINESS----makes the Farm Bill now meet the terms of Trans Pacific Trade Pact.
Remember, the mid-west and west coast where the majority of BIG AG is located are going to be devastated by global warming and dry aquifers so crops will be failing quite often. We already see this each year.
So, if US food production is becoming threatened by global warming and BIG AG is moving overseas to become importers of food to the US......Food Stamps need to go. They are now pure public subsidy giving no corporate profit support.
How does the 2014 Farm Bill change crop insurance?
The 2014 Farm Bill accelerates the evolution from traditional farm price and income support to risk management, solidifying crop insurance as the primary tool for farmers in dealing with production and price risk.
The 2008 Farm Bill’s direct and countercyclical payment programs and the state-based revenue program known as ACRE (Average Crop Revenue Enhancement Program) were eliminated. In their place, a farmer may choose one of two new farm programs that commence with the 2014 crop year: 1) Price Loss Coverage (PLC), a program that makes a payment to a producer when the market price for a covered crop is below a fixed reference price or 2) Agriculture Risk Protection (ARC), a program that makes a payment when either the farm’s revenue from all crops or the county’s revenue for a crop (the farmer may choose which alternative) is below 86 percent of a predetermined or benchmark level of revenue. The maximum coverage band is 10 percentage points (76 percent to 86 percent of benchmark revenue). These two programs are designed to supplement crop insurance by providing support in periods of multiyear price declines and helping producers cover the crop insurance policy’s deductible. Together these two farm programs are projected over time to spend substantially less than the programs they replaced.
In addition to these two new farm programs, the 2014 Farm Bill substantially strengthens crop insurance by adding several new products and requiring a number of program revisions to strengthen crop insurance’s role as the primary component of the farm safety net. The major enhancement to crop insurance is the addition of two supplemental policies that will help producers expand their protection against losses due to natural disasters or price declines.
The first program, the Stacked Income Protection Plan, or STAX, is for upland cotton acreage only, as cotton producers are not eligible for ARC or PLC. STAX is an area revenue plan that a cotton producer may use alone or in combination with an underlying policy or plan of insurance. STAX is similar in design to the existing area plan called Area Revenue Protection (ARP) and is available for sale beginning with the 2015 crop year. STAX will be available in all counties where federal crop insurance coverage is available for upland cotton. It is also available by practice, irrigated or non-irrigated. STAX covers revenue losses of not less than 10 percent and not more than 30 percent of expected county revenue. An indemnity is paid based on the amount that expected county revenue exceeds actual county revenue as applied to the individual coverage of the producer, except that indemnities may not include or overlap the producer’s selected deductible. Producers receive a premium discount equal to 80 percent of the STAX premium, and on behalf of the producer, an administrative and operating expense payment is made to the crop insurance companies to compensate for a portion of delivery expenses. Because STAX replaces major farm programs for upland cotton producers but will not be in place for the 2014 crop year, producers will receive a transition payment for 2014.
The second program, the Supplemental Coverage Option, or SCO, provides all crop producers with the option to purchase area coverage in combination with an underlying individual policy or plan of insurance that would allow indemnities to be equal to a part of the deductible on the underlying the policy or plan of insurance. SCO is available for sale beginning with the 2015 crop year for spring barley, corn, soybeans, wheat, sorghum, cotton, and rice. SCO will be available in specific counties, depending on the availability of data. Additional crops and counties are being reviewed for inclusion in SCO beginning with the 2016 crop year. SCO indemnities are triggered if area losses exceed 14 percent of expected levels, with SCO coverage not to exceed the difference between 86 percent and the coverage level selected by the producer for the underlying policy. SCO coverage is not available for crops enrolled in ARC or acreage that is enrolled in STAX. Producers receive a premium discount equal to 65 percent of the SCO premium, and on behalf of the producer, an administrative and operating expense payment is made to the crop insurance companies to compensate for a portion of delivery expenses.