UCS Supports Ryan Proposal to Limit Crop Insurance Subsidies

Statement by Daniel Z. Brito

Published Oct 11, 2013

WASHINGTON (October 11, 2013) – Despite the government shutdown, the House today has formally agreed to begin the Farm Bill conference process. Once conferees are announced, they will receive instructions from their colleagues about how to proceed with various aspects of the Farm Bill. If approved as proposed, these instructions will include a resolution from Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI).

The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) fully endorses Ryan’s resolution, H. Res 379, which would limit the number of commodity farmers eligible for federally subsidized crop insurance. The instructions from Ryan are expected to reflect the language from the Senate’s Farm Bill that limits crop insurance subsidies for farmers making over $750,000.

Below is a statement by Daniel Z. Brito, senior Washington representative for UCS’s Food & Environment Program:

“Ryan’s proposal would prevent the government from wasting tax dollars by subsidizing crop insurance for America’s wealthiest farmers. Ultimately, limiting these subsidies would save an estimated $1.3 billion over 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

“Ryan’s proposal is also a nod to the massive inequalities inherent within the current federal crop insurance programs. These programs favor commodity crop growers, in essence, backing the crops that are largely used in heavily processed junk food. Not only are most foods made from commodity crops not part of a healthy diet, these crops are heavily funded in many ways by the federal government, making them quite lucrative.

“UCS's report ‘Ensuring the Harvest’ shows that while the government is supporting commodity crops, it shuts out ‘healthy-food’ farms—those growing fruits and vegetables or raising livestock sustainably. Many farmers growing healthy produce and selling it in local markets do not have access to any type of crop insurance to protect them from weather-related risk.

“Instead of handicapping farmers growing healthy food, we should be giving them access to effective crop insurance, like that enjoyed by commodity growers. But we also need to eliminate special perks for wealthy commodity growers who already get a leg up. By eliminating subsidies for wealthy farmers, Ryan’s proposal is a start at leveling the playing field for healthy-food farmers.”