January 23, 2020

Farm Bill Issues; and the Ag Economy

Farm Bill Issues

Philip Brasher reported yesterday at the FoodWatch Blog that, “It’s an axiom among many critics of U.S. farm policy that crop subsidies to grain and cotton subsidies encourage practices that are bad for the environment.  What those critics may fail to realize is that producers who take that money have to comply with restrictions on how they farm environmentally sensitive land, such as slopes that are prone to erosion. End those subsidies, or cut them so much that farmers stop taking them, and those producers will be largely free to farm how they like at a time when high commodity prices are encouraging growers to plant fencerow to fencerow.

“With Congress likely to make deep cuts in farm spending as part of a deficit-reduction plan, there’s a chance that the $5 billion in fixed, annual direct payments to growers will be slashed or replaced altogether. Conservationists are worried about what that could mean for highly erodible cropland.

“‘The end of direct payments would have a significant impact, a negative impact, on the compliance incentive,’ USDA economist Roger Claassen said at a meeting this week of the Soil and Water Conservation Society.”