Subsidy caps to help the farm

Nancy Marshall-Genzer Mar 28, 2008


Doug Krizner: The price of rice jumped thirty percent yesterday to a record. This has raised fears of fresh outbreaks of social unrest across Asia.
Rice is a staple food for more than 2.5 billion people.

In this country, grain prices are also soaring. Corn is at record. Wheat and soybeans are nearly there, too. So why is the government continuing to subsidize farmers?

Congress takes up the Farm Bill next week. Nancy Marshall Genzer has more.

Nancy Marshall Genzer: For the first time in years, Congress had toyed with cutting subsidies. Reform advocates ran TV ads, like this one from Oxfam arguing U.S. subsidies cut into the incomes of poor farmers in other countries.

Oxfam Ad: Subsidies are hurting the family farm worldwide.

But subsidy opponents are admitting defeat. They were no match for the farm lobby.

Dan Griswold of the Cato Institute says right now, farmers making up to $2.5 million are raking in subsidies.

Dan Griswold: Just from a simple economic justice point of view, it’s very troubling.

Farmers say they need subsidies to get them through lean years. But they have agreed to some reforms — like eliminating payments for those making more than a million dollars.

Daren Coppock is CEO for the National Association of Wheat Growers:

Daren Coppock: I think it’s something that our board has looked at and said something’s coming, let’s see what we can find that’s reasonable and acceptable.

The House and Senate are expected to finalize a new Farm Bill soon. The current one expires April 18.

In Washington, I’m Nancy Marshall Genzer for Marketplace.

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