U.S. Representative Ron Kind wants the House to take up reauthorization of the farm bill next year, with a goal of eliminating billions of dollars in federal commodity subsidies. The La Crosse Democrat said if the farm bill doesn’t get taken up then, it likely won’t happen in the presidential election year of 2012. “It would be three years from now. And these taxpayer subsidies that are going to large agribusinesses are not justifiable,” he said.
Kind said billions of dollars in subsidies to commodity producers aren’t helping Wisconsin’s family farmers. “The average age of a farmer in Wisconsin is roughly 57, 58 years old, so we need that next generation to step in. And if the large agribusinesses are soaking up the taxpayer subsidies, it’s going to make it harder,” Kind said. Kind, and a bipartisan group of his colleagues sent a letter to House Agriculture Committee leadership, encouraging the committee to move forward with the reauthorization of the farm bill in 2011.
Kind said he’s ready to work on a bipartisan basis, and that nearly 60 percent of farmers get no subsidy at all, and 10 percent of those who do end up receiving over 60 percent of all the federal subsidy dollars. “A lot of these farm programs, these subsidies to a handful of commodity producers, have been in place since the Great Depression. And yet our family farmers have been struggling mightily, decade after decade. There’s been no real safety net or assistance to help them stay in business.”