WASHINGTON–(ENEWSPF)–June 7 – Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., and Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., today introduced amendments that would save taxpayers billions of dollars and take important steps toward reforming the heavily subsidized federal crop insurance program.
The Coburn-Durbin amendment would reduce premium subsidies by 15 percent for farm businesses with adjusted gross incomes of more than $750,000. It would save about $1.2 billion over 10 years.
On average, taxpayers pick up 62 percent of the crop insurance premium bought by farmers. The cost of these subsidies to the federal government has soared from $1.5 billion in 2002 to $7.4 billion in 2011.
“The federal government cannot justify providing extraordinarily costly subsidies to the most profitable and financially secure farm businesses that can easily afford to share more of the cost of their crop insurance,” said Craig Cox, senior vice president of agriculture and natural resources at EWG.
The Shaheen-Toomey amendment would place a $40,000 cap on the amount an individual can receive in premium subsidies each year. It would save about $5.2 billion over 10 years.
EWG’s recent analysis of government documents found that more than 10,000 individual farming operations received premium subsidies ranging from $100,000 to more than $1 million apiece last year. Some 26 farming operations received subsidies of $1 million or more.
“The Shaheen-Toomey amendment simply proposes the same payment limitations that have been applied to direct payments for years,” said Scott Faber, vice president of government affairs at EWG. “This makes perfect sense as crop insurance has become the primary farm safety net.”