Feds Will Dole Out An Extra $1.6 BILLION To Farmers In 2015
Farmers will rely more heavily on federal aid in 2015, despite having “strong, better-than-average” incomes, the United States Department of Agriculture forecast Tuesday.
The government will dole out $12.4 billion in federal aid to farmers this year, up from $10.8 billion in 2014 and a five-year high. The USDA credits the 15 percent increase in payments to new aid programs in the 2014 farm bill.
Crop values reached a record high in 2013. Net farm incomes soared between 2009 and 2013, also reaching a record high of nearly $130 billion in 2013. But prices have been falling in recent years and farmers will make a lot less money this year — net income will fall to $73.6 billion.
But the 2015 income levels are not especially low in the context of a 10-year window. “Overall, agriculture still remains solid,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told reporters Tuesday. “If you look at this in the long term and put it in the context of a 10-year average, it’s 12 percent above the 10-year average.”
“I don’t want people to extrapolate that we’re somehow in dire straits here, because we’re not,” he added. “We’re going to continue to see strong, better-than-average income for farms.”
The USDA said it will pay eligible farmers a combined $6.2 billion in 2015 to make up for the falling prices through two new programs. Instead of paying farmers a fixed rate per acre, the USDA now makes payments based on sudden price drops.
The change in the 2014 farm bill is supposed to save money, but could lead to dramatically higher subsidies in some years.
“Everyone knew these shoddy reforms would lead to more spending when crop prices inevitably dipped,” Heritage Action spokesperson Dan Holler told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Taxpayers deserve reforms that eliminate the favoritism and subsidies, not double down on a failed, Depression-era system.”
Republican Sen. Mike Lee roundly criticized the bill when it passed last year. “This Farm Bill is a monument to every dysfunction Washington indulges to bend our politics and twist our economy to benefit itself at the expense of the American people.” (RELATED: The Farm Bill vs. America)
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