Deficit Commission Proposes $3 Billion in Cuts to Farm Subsidies, CSP

From the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC)

Excerpt: The draft plan calls for $3 billion in annual cuts to “farm subsidies,” loosely described as “direct payments and other subsidies, Conservation Security funding, and funding for the Market Access Plan.”  Unfortunately for conservation advocates, the authors appear to conflate production subsidies with conservation incentives.

While the commission’s report is non-binding, NSAC hopes that the final draft will focus on closing payment rule loopholes and lowering per-farm payment caps, thereby ending the current practice of sending hundreds of thousands of dollars each year in payments to individual mega farms.  Similar rules should be applied to crop insurance subsidies, while receipt of all production and insurance subsidies should be linked to implementation of basic soil and water conservation.

Rather than being scaled back, programs that support environmental and conservation practices on working farm and ranch land, like the Conservation Stewardship Program, should be the template for a leaner, public benefit-oriented farm program in the future.

(Note: We assume the commissioners really meant to say Conservation Stewardship Program, not Conservation Security Program.  To obtain savings from the Security program (or from recent Stewardship program enrollments), the government would have to be willing to break long-term contracts they have signed with farmers in earlier years.   The obvious mistake in the name of the program, though, may also be a sign of how little thought went into the development of the recommendation.)

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