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Farm Subsidies and the Future Impact of the New Farm Bill

Farm Subsidies and the Future Impact of the New Farm Bill -...

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Farm Subsidies and the Future Impact of the New Farm Bill The concept of farmers receiving payment from the government for their crop production dates back to the Great Depression as a way to aid struggling farmers. According to The Heritage Foundation, the agriculture policy program has now become America’s largest “corporate welfare program (Riedl, 2002)”. In recent years the laws enacted by Congress have proved only to help the largest and richest companies and their investors become even richer. In the meantime, the poorer and smaller farmers are being left out of the program and ignored (“About the 2002”, 2002; “Congress secretly plots”, 2002; DeHaven & Edwards, 2001; “Farm subsidy cuts”, 1996; Foldvary; “How taxpayers are”; LaJeunesse, 2002; Riedl, 2002; Salt of the Earth, 2002; & Schalch, 2002). Considering its past failures, would the new bill have a positive impact on the American economy, world trade, and facilitate the little people it had originally declared it would help, or is it just a newer version of the past legislation? Overview The new bill’s predecessor, the 1996 Fair Agriculture Improvement and Reform Act or FAIR Act, had been under much criticism since former President Clinton passed it into law. It was initially praised as being the “beginning of the end” of these government payments. However, “emergency” aid programs that followed and loopholes in the law itself had only increased farm subsidies, reaching an all time high (DeHaven and Edwards, 2001; Riedl, 2002; &. Salt of the Earth, 2002). The latest farm bill, known as the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002, recently signed into law by President Bush, is a “farm aid package” that will over the next ten years provide an estimated $248 billion to aid the national farming 1
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community. The new bill included many alterations to the previous farm bill, which expired this year. Among these are changes to the farm payment program, introduction of “counter-cyclical” farm income support, modification to the rules for eligibility for Federal farm credit assistance in order to increase the amount of borrowers, and the introduction of provisions on animal welfare. Besides producing wheat, corn, cotton, rice, and soybeans, one can now be eligible for this program of one produces wool or honey. Also subsidy payments for milk, peanuts, lentils, and dry beans will be increased. This new legislation also included an eighty percent increase in spending on land conservation programs. These programs include the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program in which landowners and nonprofit organizations are provided a $700 million for maintaining, protecting, and managing lands for wildlife habitat, and the Grassland Reserve and Enhancement Program, a new program that has a budget of $254 million in which producers can enter into contracts and easements to restore or improve up to two million acres of grassland, rangeland, and pastureland (Bjerga, 2002; Groppe, 2002; Economic Research Service, 2002; National Resources Conservation Service, 2002; “President signs farm bill”, 2002; & “USDA implements”, 2002).
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Farm Subsidies and the Future Impact of the New Farm Bill -...

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