NO ADVERTISING, GOVERNMENT OR CORPORATE FUNDING

  • Latest News
  • Pitch a Story
  • Work with a Journalist
  • Join the Blog Squad
  • Afghanistan
  • Africa
  • Asia
  • Baltimore
  • Canada
  • Egypt
  • Europe
  • Latin America
  • Middle East
  • Russia
  • Economy
  • Environment
  • Health Care
  • Military
  • Occupy
  • Organize This
  • Reality Asserts Itself
  • US Politics
  • Congress Cuts Food Stamps by $8 Billion, Expands Corporate Farm Welfare by $7 Billion


    Jason Rano: The vast majority of farm subsidies and crop insurance go to the largest corporate farms. -   October 3, 14
    Members don't see ads. If you are a member, and you're seeing this appeal, click here

    Audio

    Share to Facebook Share to Twitter



    No sports, no celebrities, no paid stories, no agendas. Pure integrity. - Steve Dustcircle
    Log in and tell us why you support TRNN

    Bio

    Jason Rano joined Environmental Working Group after working in Baltimore city government and on Capitol Hill as a legislative aide to Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg of New Jersey. He represents EWG on Capitol Hill and before executive agencies and state and local governments on chemicals policy, including Toxic Substances Control Act and personal care products, bottled water, agriculture and other issues. Jason holds an undergraduate degree from American University and a Masters in Public Policy from Johns Hopkins University. 

    Transcript

    Congress Cuts Food Stamps by $8 Billion, Expands Corporate Farm Welfare 
by $7 BillionJESSICA DESVARIEUX, TRNN PRODUCER: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Jessica Desvarieux in Baltimore.

    The House and Senate reached an agreement on the farm bill to cut food stamps by $8 billion over the next decade. Conservation programs were also cut, by $4 billion. And while direct subsidies to farmers was cut by $14 billion, taxpayer-subsidized crop insurance for farmers was increased by $7 billion. We should also note that both the Senate and the House's original bills cut food stamps and expanded the crop insurance program. This is the first time in history that Democrats supported cutting food stamps.

    Now joining us to discuss all this is Jason Rano. Jason is the director of government affairs at the Environmental Working Group.

    Thanks for joining us, Jason.

    JASON RANO, DIR. GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS, ENVIRONMENTAL WORKING GROUP: Thank you for having me.

    DESVARIEUX: So, Jason, we know that direct subsidies will be cut by $14 billion, but crop insurance will increase by $7 billion. First off, what is crop insurance? And how does that differ from direct subsidies?

    RANO: Crop insurance is--I like to think of it as similar to car insurance, and the difference being that taxpayers subsidize a lot of farmers' premiums for the crop insurance program. On average, taxpayers subsidize 62 percent of a farmer's premiums. We also subsidize the crop insurance industry to the tune of up to $1.3 billion annually.

    The difference is that direct subsidies, you didn't have to actually be farming; you just had to own a stake in land that was being used. For crop insurance, you actually have to be farming and have to suffer a loss.

    DESVARIEUX: Alright. And according to your organization--I want to get a sense of who is actually receiving these subsidies. You say farmers, but we can get a little bit more specific. Let's take a look at your website here, and let's focus on one of the biggest agricultural producers, California. We can see here that if you take a look, that 91 percent of farms in California did not collect subsidy payment. And that's according to the USDA.

    So does the majority of subsidies go to the largest farms?

    RANO: They do. In California, 10 percent of the farms collected 73 percent of the subsidies. When it comes to crop insurance, in 2011 the top 20 percent of policyholders collected 73 percent of the payments.

    The difference between the programs is, because there is no transparency in the crop insurance program, we don't know who the individuals are that collect crop insurance subsidies. At least in the direct payment program we had a clear understanding of who the farmers and agribusinesses were that were collecting these taxpayer subsidies. The same cannot be said of the crop insurance program.

    DESVARIEUX: Alright. So there seems to be a lack of transparency here.

    But I need to clarify one point, because many of the insurance premiums end up in Wall Street financial firms. Is that right?

    RANO: One of the issues we face is we're not really sure where premiums subsidies go. What we do know is in 2011, 26 people in agribusinesses received at least $1 million in premium subsidies from the taxpayer, and 10,000 received at least $100,000 or more. We also know that we subsidize the crop insurance industry upwards of $1.3 billion annually to sell these crop insurance policies and to administer them. But because there is a lack of transparency, we don't know much about the individuals and agribusinesses receiving these subsidies.

    DESVARIEUX: Alright. Fair enough.

    Let's switch gears a little bit and talk about the other portion of the farm bill, and that's food stamps. Critics of the food stamp program claim there is massive fraud. And House Republicans' original bill, they mandated drug testing. How does fraud in the food stamps program compare with fraud in the crop insurance program?

    RANO: Well, government reports repeatedly show that the SNAP program has one of the lowest fraud rates in the government. One of the issues with crop insurance fraud is we don't really know. There hasn't been an in-depth examination by Congress to look at fraud rates in the crop insurance program.

    We do know that there have been several outlandish cases of crop insurance fraud recently, including one last year in North Carolina with 41 defendants pleading guilty or being found guilty of conspiring to defraud the taxpayers and the government of $100 million through the crop insurance program. But there hasn't been as in-depth an investigation or focus on crop insurance fraud as there has been on perceived or real SNAP fraud.

    DESVARIEUX: What would your organization suggest as an ideal farm bill?

    RANO: Sure. One is a full funding of nutrition assistance to make sure that those in need receive the food that they need. Focus on healthy and local foods. A reformed and strengthened crop insurance that makes sure that those farmers that needed the assistance and the program the most received it, not just the wealthiest farmers and agribusinesses. And strong conservation funding and practices to protect the land for the next generation of farmers.

    DESVARIEUX: Alright. Jason Rano, thank you so much for joining us.

    RANO: Thank you for having me.

    DESVARIEUX: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.

    End

    DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.


    Comments

    Our automatic spam filter blocks comments with multiple links and multiple users using the same IP address. Please make thoughtful comments with minimal links using only one user name. If you think your comment has been mistakenly removed please email us at contact@therealnews.com

    Comments


    Latest Stories


    Dirty Link Between Senators and Keystone XL Pipeline Vote
    SYRIZA Victory in Greece In Spite of the NYT and WSJ Coverage
    At the Center of a Storm - Irvin Jim on RAI (3/3)
    Hezbollah and Israel Call for Deescalation in Golan Heights
    Would Loretta Lynch Support Ineffective Federal Drug Policy?
    Sen. Sanders Presents $1 Trillion Infrastructure Bill as Job Creator
    At the Center of a Storm - Irvin Jim on RAI (2/3)
    The Confirmation Hearings of US Attorney General Nominee Loretta Lynch
    As Obama Expands Offshore Drilling, a Look at the Health of the Oceans Today
    Death Toll in Ukraine Over 5000 as the Ceasefire Breaks Down (2/2)
    At the Center of a Storm - Irvin Jim, General Secretary of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa on RAI (1/3)
    Marxist Economists, Academics and Philosophers Sworn In to the Greek Cabinet
    Some in GOP See Economic Gain In Immigration Reforms
    Death Toll in Ukraine Over 5000 as the Ceasefire Breaks Down
    US-India Nuke Deal A Big Win for Corporations
    Will the Kurdish Coalition Hold Kobani?
    US Resumes Drone Strikes in Yemen Despite Political Leadership Vacuum
    CIA Whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling Convicted of Espionage
    New Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras Sworn In to Office
    President Obama in Saudi Arabia to Pay Respects to Former Friend and Ally King Abdullah
    Historic Victory for SYRIZA Greece
    Now in Power, SYRIZA Faces Herculean Task
    American Sniper: Honoring a Fallen Hero or Whitewashing a Murderous Occupation?
    Holder's Move on Civil Forfeiture Only a Dent in Abusive Police Practice
    TRNN Replay: Saudi Arabia and the al-Qaeda Monster (3/5)
    McCain Calls 'Cold Warriors' to School Senate on National Security
    The Saudis - Oil, ISIS and Revolution
    Republican Abortion Ban Could Put Pregnant Women's Lives in Peril
    GOP Leadership's Invitation to Netanyahu a Provocation Aimed at War with Iran
    'We are going to destroy the Greek oligarchy system'

    RealNewsNetwork.com, Real News Network, Real News, Real News For Real People, IWT are trademarks and service marks of IWT.TV inc. "The Real News" is the flagship show of IWT and Real News Network.

    All original content on this site is copyright of The Real News Network.  Click here for more

    Problems with this site? Please let us know

    Linux VPS Hosting by Star Dot Hosting