crop insurance


U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Soil Conservationist Garrett Duyck and David Brewer examine a soil sample on the Emerson Dell farm near The Dalles, OR. USDA NRCS photo by Ron Nichols.

Congress Could Help Farmers, Prevent Pollution, and Reduce Flood and Drought Damage. Will They?

, senior analyst, Food and Environment

The news lately has been full of Congressional battles—healthcare, the debt ceiling, and now tax “reform” (ahem)—and it’s starting to seem like Congress is only interested in blowing things up. But a huge legislative effort is gaining steam on Capitol Hill, one that is likely to have general bipartisan support, though you probably haven’t heard nearly as much about it. I’m talking about the next five-year Farm Bill—which really should be called the Food and Farm Bill, as it shapes that sprawling economic sector worth more than 5 percent of US GDP, and which Congress must reauthorize by September 30, 2018.

In this first of a series of posts on the 2018 Farm Bill, I look at how this legislation could do more to help farmers conserve their soil, deliver clean water, and even reduce the devastating impacts of floods and droughts, all of which would save taxpayers’ money. Read more >

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Photo: Iowa State University/Lisa Schulte Moore Photo: Iowa State University/Lisa Schulte Moore

How US Farm Subsidies Make Taxpayers Pay Twice (And How We Could Change That)

, senior analyst, Food and Environment

Usually, when you buy something, you pay for it just once. But if you’re a US taxpayer, you’re paying twice for the food system you’re “buying” with your hard-earned tax dollars. An example: today’s massive federal farm subsidies encourage farming practices that lead to toxic algae blooms, drinking water pollution, and other costly problems we have to pay for again downstream. By contrast, modest investment in just one proven alternative farming system would achieve annual savings—in the form of water pollution averted—of $850 million. Read more >

Photo: Iowa State University/Lisa Schulte Moore
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How a (Farm) Bill Became a Law

, , senior analyst, Food and Environment

Much has been written about the ugly sausage-making of the just-ended farm bill process: the abandoned opportunity to truly reform the nation’s farm subsidy system, the cynical refusal to deny subsidies to millionaire farmers, and the 4 percent of food stamp beneficiaries who ultimately took it on the chin. But now that President Obama has signed the thing into law, it’s worth reviewing a number of real and meaningful wins that UCS and its allies and supporters achieved in this bill. And also noting that our work isn’t done. Read more >

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Ensuring a Healthy Harvest

, senior analyst, Food and Environment

Today I’m thinking about insurance. The point of having it is to protect the things we value most—like our health and our homes. But in U.S. farm policy, that logic has been turned on its head, and many of the crops we should value most are actually ineligible for insurance. Read more >

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