News / Economy

US Senate Ends One Farm Subsidy, Adds Another

Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, speaks to reporters, June 10, 2013.
Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, speaks to reporters, June 10, 2013.
The U.S. Senate has cut a $5 billion-per-year farm subsidy program as part of a bill shaping U.S. farm policy and much more. But lawmakers have added new subsidies that critics say could end up hurting other countries’ farmers more than the old program did.

The $955 billion Farm Bill passed the Senate with a wide, bipartisan majority. It cuts about $24 billion from the budget over 10 years, in part by doing away with $5 billion a year in what are called “direct payments.” Farmers got those payments in good years and bad.

High crop prices, historic farm profits and tight federal budgets made that subsidy politically unpopular.

Getting rid of it was one big change in the new bill, says Agriculture Committee chairwoman Debbie Stabenow.

“It’s a reform bill, it ends subsidies and moves us in the direction of risk management and we are very proud of the work that we have done," said Stabenow.

The Senate bill helps farmers manage the risks of bad weather as well as bad markets. It offers crop insurance to farmers raising crops that have not previously been eligible. And it provides farmers with payments if prices drop below a certain point.

Stabenow says it’s intended to help the farmers who provide the U.S. with a safe, affordable food supply.

But critics say the bill goes too far. Montana State University economist Vince Smith says the new guarantee against market drops could get the U.S. in trouble with the World Trade Organization.

“When prices fall from the current levels, subsidies to a whole plethora of crops go up. Well, that’s exactly when countries like Brazil will bring trade dispute cases claiming price suppression in world markets," said Smith.

Brazil already has won a WTO case against the United States over cotton subsidies. Smith says the new Farm Bill could revive that dispute.

The bill also permits $60 million to be spent buying emergency food aid closer to where a crisis is happening, rather than shipping food from the U.S. Supporters say it’s faster and cheaper and could save more lives.

Eric Munoz with the anti-poverty group Oxfam says it’s a step forward. But he points out that it’s just $60 million out of a food aid budget of more than $1 billion.

“It is a very small portion of a relatively large program. So I think we’re just at the beginning, really, of creating the kind of flexibility for food aid that we’d like to see on a much larger scale," said Munoz.

But farm groups, food processors and shippers object to changes that they say will cost American jobs.

The changes are not included in the version of the Farm Bill the House of Representatives is expected to begin debating in the next few weeks. And the House and Senate are even further apart on domestic food aid programs.

You May Like

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Agei
X
Elizabeth Lee
July 20, 2014 2:36 AM
Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.
Video

Video Diplomatic Crisis Grows Over MH17 Plane Crash

The Malaysia Airlines crash in eastern Ukraine is drawing reaction from leaders around the world. With suspicions growing that a surface-to-air missile shot down the aircraft, there are increasing tensions in the international community over who is to blame. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Undocumented Immigrants Face Perilous Journey to US, No Guarantees

Every day, hundreds of undocumented immigrants from Central America attempt the arduous journey through Mexico and turn themselves over to U.S. border patrol -- with the hope that they will not be turned away. But the dangers they face along the way are many, and as Ramon Taylor reports from the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, their fate rests on more than just the reception they get at the US border.
Video

Video Scientists Create Blackest Material Ever

Of all the black things in the universe only the infamous "black holes" are so black that not even a tiny amount of light can bounce back. But scientists have managed to create material almost as black, and it has enormous potential use. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Fog Collector Transforming Maasai Water Harvesting in Kenya

The Maasai people of Kenya are known for their cattle-herding, nomadic lifestyle. But it's an existence that depends on access to adequate water for their herds and flocks. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA, on a "fog collector."

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.7305
JPY
USD
101.53
GBP
USD
0.5830
CAD
USD
1.0656
INR
USD
60.075

Rates may not be current.