The NewStandard ceased publishing on April 27, 2007.

Groups Charge Senate Failed Public on Farm Subsidies Vote

by Brendan Coyne

Nov. 4, 2005 – In giving final approval to a budget package projected to cut federal spending by $36 billion, the US Senate defeated an amendment that would have capped federal payouts to farmers and closed loopholes used by factory farms to take in millions or more in subsidies every year. By a 53-46 vote, the Senate opted not to include the proposal, which was expected to save more than $1 billion over five years.

Lawmakers have been seeking significant budget cuts due to massive outlays for overseas wars and for disaster relief along the Gulf Coast. Last week, Senate and House committees approved cuts to the Department of Agriculture’s budget, with the House approving a plan lowering food-stamp funding and restricting access to the program.

Offered by Senators Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and Byron Dorgan (D-North Dakota), the farm subsidies amendment would have capped payouts at $250,000 per year, according to statements from Grassley’s office.

The effort was supported by Oxfam America, a branch of the international relief agency, and the Environmental Working Group (EWG), which found in a recent study that 72 percent of farm subsidies go to the richest 10 percent of recipients.

In a statement yesterday, Oxfam America Legislative Director Charley Moore said the "Senate missed an opportunity to get on the path to a more equitable and sustainable farm program." The organization believes mega-farms unfairly game the current subsidy system, which allows payments up to $360,000, to collectively take in millions each year.

"Congress should fund a sustainable farm program, not one that hurts family farms by encouraging consolidation and over production," Moore said. "Instead, today's move demonstrated the power that a small number of farming operations have in maintaining an antiquated farm program."

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The NewStandard ceased publishing on April 27, 2007.

Brendan Coyne is a contributing journalist.

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