Final Farm Bill Reverses Reform

By Traci Bruckner, tracib@cfra.org, Center for Rural Affairs

On February 7, 2014, President Obama signed the Farm Bill into law in East Lansing, Michigan.

The Center for Rural Affairs opposed the final Farm Bill that came out of the Conference Committee because the conference report stripped out bipartisan reforms, which passed both House and Senate, and would have tightened the definition of being “actively engaged” in farming. The current definition has been a loophole that mega-farms use to gain additional payments by defining passive investors as qualified farmers, even though those investors provide no real labor or management on the farm.

Not only did the Conference Committee leaders actually increase farm payment limits from $50,000 to $125,000 for the primary commodity program, they turned aside real reform passed in both House and Senate, to essentially create a commodity program that will provide unlimited payments to mega-farms, no matter how large they get, as long as payments flow to family members.

Conference Committee leaders have tried to lay claim to the mantle of reform. However, this Farm Bill will continue to provide virtually unlimited farm program payments to the nation’s largest and wealthiest farms, which they will use to bid up land costs, drive their smaller neighbors out of business and bar the next generation of farmers from even gaining a foothold in farming. This is not reform, this is smoke and mirrors. We can, we must do better than this.

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