ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - The stakes will again be high when the U.S. House of Representatives considers a $500 billion farm bill later this month.
House members rejected a farm bill June 20 amid divisions over food subsidies and food stamps.
Heritage Foundation researcher Daren Bakst says nothing should be sacred when it comes to cutting programs to farmers. He would like to see the elimination of programs which pay farmers not to grow a certain crop. As for insurance on damaged crops, he says farmers are already protected.
“We already have something called a crop insurance program where taxpayers subsidize up to 60 percent or more of the premium for farmers,” he said. Bakst argues that the current insurance plan is enough and warns of skyrocketing rates over the coming decade.
Blake Hurst, President of the Missouri Farm Bureau, disagrees. He says the crop insurance plan should remain untouched.
“The crop insurance program is very important to us and I don’t think there’s any better example of that than last year’s drought,” he said. “On our farm in northwest Missouri we raised about half of what we anticipate raising.”
The two also disagree on whether the nation’s food stamp program should be part of the bill. Bakst with the Heritage Foundation thinks food stamps and the farm bill should be separate while Hurst and the Farm Bureau say food and agriculture are inseparable.
The House version of last month’s failed bill included a $21 billion cut to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), a much more severe cut than was proposed in the Senate version. As a result, St. Louis Area Foodbank officials spoke out in opposition to the bill and cheered its failure.
“We see today’s announcement of the House’s failure to pass the farm bill legislation as a victory not only for the thousands of people locally but millions of people across the country that are at risk of going hungry,” Foodbank spokesman Ryan Farmer said last month.