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A Farm Bill for all of Rural America

Last week the Senate Agriculture Committee passed the first farm bill in decades that provides no funding for rural community and economic development. Creating rural jobs and economic opportunities should be a Farm Bill priority. Without real commitment and investment, the Rural Micro-entrepreneur Program will shut down and stop creating jobs. Little help will be available for value-added agriculture. Jobs that would have been created won’t be there for the people of rural Virginia.

These are tough budgetary times. But as the Senate works to tighten Farm Bill spending, they should make choices that reflect America’s priorities. Investing in jobs for people who need them and in the future of America’s rural cities and small towns is one such priority.

Small and mid-sized farms should be another. But unlimited subsidies to some of the nation’s largest farms and wealthiest landowners should not. Today, if one huge operation farmed all of Virginia, USDA would pay 60 percent of their premiums for insurance against falling crop prices and yields on every single acre in every year – even with record high crop prices and skyrocketing federal deficits.

Thankfully, the Senate Agriculture Committee closed loopholes that mega-farms use to evade caps on traditional farm payments. But they did nothing to rein in unlimited crop insurance subsidies and made no commitment to rural development.

Let’ see – unlimited subsidies for the nation’s largest farms? Or investments in jobs for rural people and a brighter future for their communities? The best choice is obvious.

By John Crabtree

 Center for Rural Affairs

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