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

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

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.