Conservative groups seek to kill harvest-price insurance subsidies

By Philip Brasher

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, Feb. 10, 2015 - Leading conservative groups are backing an effort by congressional critics of the crop insurance program to eliminate premium subsidies for the popular harvest-price revenue policies.

Representatives of Heritage Action and the American Enterprise Institute will appear at a news conference Thursday with Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and Rep. John Duncan, R-Tenn., to promote companion bills called the Harvest Price Subsidy Prohibition Act.

Lets Talk Food The introduction of the measures follows President Barack Obama's fiscal 2016 budget proposal to reduce subsidies for harvest-price policies by 10 percentage points, which would save an estimated $14.6 billion over 10 years.
The policies allow farmers to protect their revenue from upward movements in prices at harvest time. The administration argues that farmers can get similar protection on the private market through call options.

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Heritage Action is the political action arm of the Heritage Foundation and tangled with some House conservatives over its work on the 2014 farm bill.

The Environmental Working Group and R Street Institute, a libertarian think tank, also will participate in Thursday's news conference.

Two other senators, Pat Toomey, R-Pa., and Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., recently introduced a bill that would impose a $50,000 a year cap on the amount of premium subsidies a person or legal entity can receive.

The chairmen of the House and Senate Agriculture committees, Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Texas, and Pat Roberts, R-Kan., warned crop insurance executives on Monday that there would be attempts to cut the program. Critics promote the proposed cuts “as real reform, but we know that the real end game is to kill crop insurance,” said Conaway.

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