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Statement of U.S. PIRG Tax and Budget Advocate Dan Smith on the Farm Bill passed yesterday by the U.S. Senate:
"U.S. PIRG opposes The Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2013 (S. 954). The farm bill, just passed by the Senate, would keep the gravy train flowing for big agribusiness, locking in their unjustified corporate handouts for the next five years. With Congress focused on how to fix the budget, our elected leaders shouldn’t squander the opportunity to cut off these outrageous giveaways to Big Ag once and for all.
"This bill continues the current practice of disproportionately subsidizing the largest agribusinesses, which are already profitable and don’t need taxpayer handouts. Between 1995 and 2011, taxpayers shelled out $277 billion in agricultural subsidies, and the largest agribusinesses have made out like bandits. While the Big Ag lobby claims to stand up for small farmers, 74 percent of these subsidies went to just 4 percent of agribusinesses, leaving more than 60 percent of farms not even getting a dime. What’s more, a staggering $18.2 billion of these subsidies have gone to junk food ingredients like high fructose corn syrup, at a time when America struggles with an obesity epidemic.
"While the bill makes some progress in limiting crop insurance payments to wealthy farmers and ending the notorious direct payments program, it does not do enough to end this wasteful use of taxpayer dollars. And it even creates a costly new subsidy scheme that would lock in the currently high corn and soy prices, once again directing billions of taxpayer dollars to giant agribusinesses.
"The House needs to make serious changes to this legislation or reject it entirely. Our elected leaders should stand up for taxpayers, not Big Ag."
U.S. PIRG, the federation of state Public Interest Research Groups, is a consumer group that stands up to powerful interests whenever they threaten our health and safety, our financial security, or our right to fully participate in our democratic society.
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