News / USA

New US Farm Bill Reaps Controversy

New US Farm Bill Reaps Controversyi
X
February 07, 2014 11:02 PM
U.S. farmers will no longer get automatic checks from the government under new agriculture legislation the President signed into law Friday. But critics say the new Farm Bill simply replaces the old subsidies with new ones that may violate international trade rules. And as VOA’s Steve Baragona reports, the bill also includes reforms in how the U.S. helps the hungry around the world.
U.S. farmers will no longer get automatic checks from the government under new agriculture legislation President Obama signed into law Friday.  But critics say the new Farm Bill simply replaces the old subsidies with new ones that may violate international trade rules.  The bill also includes reforms in how the U.S. helps the hungry around the world.

The Farm Bill Obama signed ended $5 billion per year in automatic payments to farmers.

"This bill helps to clamp down on loopholes that allowed people to receive benefits whether they were planting crops or not. And it saves taxpayers hard-earned dollars by making sure that we only support farmers when disaster strikes or prices drop. It's not just automatic," the president said.

President Barack Obama, surrounded by members of Congress, signs the Farm Bill, Feb. 7, 2014, at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan.President Barack Obama, surrounded by members of Congress, signs the Farm Bill, Feb. 7, 2014, at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan.
x
President Barack Obama, surrounded by members of Congress, signs the Farm Bill, Feb. 7, 2014, at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan.
President Barack Obama, surrounded by members of Congress, signs the Farm Bill, Feb. 7, 2014, at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan.
The new Farm Bill expands programs that buffer growers from bad weather or bad markets.

It raises the minimum price growers are guaranteed for certain crops. And it offers subsidized insurance that guarantees farmers’ incomes do not drop much from year to year.

Those programs could create problems says University of California at Davis economist Dan Sumner.

“That’s the kind of assurances that the U.S. government is willing to provide that most farmers in the world, in fact, don’t have access to,” he said.

With the backing of the government, Sumner says U.S. farmers can produce more and export more.

“Ultimately, that drives down world prices and it’s a little tougher for farmers in developing countries to compete with that,” Sumner said.

Subsidies pushed down world cotton prices in the early 2000s, and the U.S. lost a trade dispute over them.

Sumner says the new Farm Bill could re-open that dispute.

But growers’ groups note that trade rules do allow governments to pay a limited amount of subsidies.

“We’re pretty confident that it would take an extremely bad situation for us to even come close to violating those particular limits, something the United States hasn’t come close to in years,” said Dale Moore, policy chief at the American Farm Bureau Federation.

Elsewhere in the Farm Bill, changes should help food aid get to more needy people around the world.

Aid groups can spend more of the funding they receive buying food from markets near where it will be used, rather than from the United States.

“Not only will that save money, but it will reach people faster," said Oxfam America's Eric Munoz.  "The actual program of buying locally is a much quicker response than buying food from the United States and shipping it.”

Munoz says with the same funding, help can now reach hundreds of thousands more hungry people.

You May Like

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

Russia’s Prosecutor General to Review Legality of Baltics Independence

Move, announced Tuesday, has alarmed Baltic States and strained even further their increasingly tense ties with Moscow More

US Urged to Keep Up Pressure on Cuba Rights

Communist government continues to hold dozens of political prisoners, tightly restricts freedom of expression, uses threats, intimidation to discourage critics, according to activist groups More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Interneti
X
Mike O'Sullivan
June 30, 2015 8:20 PM
Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.

VOA Blogs