News / USA

US House Passes Farm Subsidy Changes

File - Congress moved one step closer to ending a politically unpopular $5 billion subsidy that pays farmers regardless of need.
File - Congress moved one step closer to ending a politically unpopular $5 billion subsidy that pays farmers regardless of need.
The U.S. House of Representatives has approved a Farm Bill, bringing changes in farm subsidy programs and reforms to international food aid one step closer to passage.

The 10-year, $1 trillion bill includes $23 billion in cuts in conservation measures, nutrition programs and crop subsidies.

It ends a politically unpopular $5 billion subsidy that paid farmers regardless of need.  In its place, lawmakers added subsidized insurance programs that compensate farmers for crop losses or price declines.

Backers say it will provide support only when farmers need it.

But opponents see it as providing the bulk of the benefits to the wealthiest farmers, and they expect large payouts as prices for major crops decline from recent record highs.

“Almost surely, farmers are going to get a lot more money out of these programs than they got out of the direct payments program,” said Montana State University agricultural economist Vincent Smith.

Critics also say the subsidy changes may trigger an international trade dispute.  Smith said by cushioning U.S. farmers against price declines in global markets, these programs interfere with international trade more than the programs they replace.

“Expenditures are all going to be viewed as distortionary programs.  They are all going to be grist for the mill for trade disputes, and the U.S. is going to be in the wrong,” Smith said.

American Farm Bureau Federation chief economist Bob Young said he expects a case to go to the World Trade Organization, but says the programs are sound.

“Somebody is going to be very hard-pressed, I think, to challenge us on this front,” he said.

The U.S. has already lost a WTO case to Brazil on cotton subsidies. It is unclear if the new Farm Bill will resolve the dispute.

The Farm Bill also increases funding to purchase international food aid closer to where it is needed.

Advocates say local and regional purchase is faster, less costly and helps more of the needy than the current model of U.S. food aid, which involves shipping U.S.-produced crops on U.S. flagged ships.

Former agriculture secretary Dan Glickman says the $80 million measure is a small improvement in the $1.5 billion annual food aid budget.

“It doesn’t go all the way.  It will still largely be commodity-based.  But it still moves in that direction,” he said.

Funding for domestic food aid programs has been among the most contentious parts of the bill. Negotiators compromised on $8.6 billion in cuts, mostly to stiffer eligibility requirements.

Conservatives wanted more cuts and tighter enrollment for a safety net program that has continued to grow as the economy has improved.

But liberals fought against a bill that they see as cutting protection for the hungry while increasing it for farmers.

The Farm Bill went through three years of difficult negotiations through partisan divisions and fights within the Republican Party. It now goes to the Senate for a vote expected later this week.

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More