As Congress prepares to vote on a new five year federal farm bill, U.S. Representative Ron Kind (D-WI) says lawmakers are missing an important opportunity to make real reforms.
After months of debate, a compromise version of the farm bill was introduced Monday. The legislation includes changes in the subsidies provided to farmers and boosts crop insurance programs, although Kind says it does little to end current problems with the system. He says there will be “a major shifting of so-called direct payments into other subsidy programs,” while the bill also sets “record high target prices for commodity crops, so even a slight dip in prices will mean huge taxpayer subsidies going out the door.” Kind worries the lack of reforms will lead to more farm consolidation, and push small and mid-sized family farms out of business.
During a call with reporters on Tuesday, Kind was also critical of cuts to low-income food assistance programs, which will result in a $90 monthly reduction in food stamp benefits for about 850,000 households. Rather than fixing real problems with subsidies, he accused Republicans of “going after low-income children and individuals with disabilities” by making it harder for them to get the nutrition they need.
Kind says he understands the need for a new farm bill to give farmers more certainty about prices, but notes that he would rather hold off on a vote to make sure Congress “gets it right.” A vote on the bill in the U.S. House could come later today.