Senate, House farm bills follow different paths
Politico this week looks behind the numbers in the House and Senate versions of the 2012 Farm Bill. The analysis uncovers “rival visions of the government’s role in agriculture — each playing on the different ambitions and anxieties of farmers themselves.”
Simplifying the picture is near impossible, but Politico does a nice job with the clarifying:
The centerpiece for the Senate is a new taxpayer-financed “shallow-loss” program that reduces deductibles on crop insurance and can be tailored to each farm’s output. This plays to the “Captain of My Ship” side of farming, and for Midwest corn and soybean producers — already riding a wave of high prices — it’s a bold, enticing view.
The House draft — to be marked up this week by the Agriculture Committee — bears the imprint of the South, which not only lost Tara but lives in fear of price swings on world markets and having no safety net.
Politico notes that by taking away the individual farm-level option in its shallow-loss plan, the House bill cuts participation by half. And that leads farmers to embrace government-set price supports if markets again plunge below production costs.
Corn and soybeans fare far worse in the House bill than in the Senate’s, Politico says. Wheat does better on balance, but the biggest winners are Southern crops like rice and peanuts. To follow the figuring, click here.