Farm Policy Facts writer was in the Red River Valley of Minnesota and North Dakota yesterday, visiting with sugarbeet farmers who are planting this year’s crop.
Farmers there are worried.
Worried about the weather, which delayed planting. Worried about the markets, which have been slow to recover after Mexico illegally dumped subsidized surpluses here and sent prices spiraling. And worried about Capitol Hill, where a handful of lawmakers are pushing draconian cuts to the two safety net provisions they depend on most – no-cost sugar policy and crop insurance.
While farmers were fretting, agriculture’s opponents were gloating.
Congresswoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC), the author of an amendment to cut sugar farmers out of the Farm Bill, told reporters that she was enthusiastic about her chances to depress sugar prices further with additional subsidized imports. And the multinational food makers that bankrolled the lobbying effort behind her sour plan could barely contain their excitement.
A spokesman for the American Sugar Alliance summed up Foxx’s reaction well.
“It is unfortunate that an elected official of the United States of America would ever feel enthusiasm about the prospect of bankrupting U.S. farmers and sending U.S. workers to the unemployment line,” he told the Hagstrom Report.
“Of course, the authors of the five failed sugar amendments during the last farm bill expressed their ‘enthusiasm’ on the eve of votes, too, and their colleagues defeated those amendments in bipartisan manner,” he continued. “We are hopeful that Rep. Foxx’s scheme to outsource U.S. sugar jobs to subsidized foreign industries will be likewise rejected.”
We are also hopeful that Congress will vote NO on amendment 32 and defeat Foxx’s anti-farmer proposal.
Not surprisingly, farm policy’s perennial critics, like Heritage and Americans for Tax Reform, are supportive of the amendment and view sugar’s potential downfall as a needed first domino to bring down the entire farm safety net.
Crop insurance is next on their hit list. They are rallying behind another amendment, by Congressman Tom McClintock (R-CA), to eviscerate the insurance farmers need and bankers require by driving up farmers’ premiums and making private-sector delivery impossible.
But McClintock does not stop there. His plan would eliminate all farm policies in Title 1 of the Farm Bill and unilaterally disarm American agriculture in a world awash in foreign subsidies.
Clearly that’s a terrible plan that would effectively eliminate the farm safety net for farmers from sea to shining sea. Which might explain why more than 300 farm groups – from sea to shining sea – sent Congress a letter opposing cuts like these.
We agree and urge Congress to vote NO on amendment 93.
Farmers are dealing with falling incomes; natural disasters like drought; markets manipulated by foreign cheaters; and extreme-minded critics at home. Farmers need a fighting chance to survive, not fewer tools to mitigate the unique risks they face.
Our view on this Farm Bill is simple: If you support farmers, reject anti-farmer amendments.