NSAC, think tank lays out farm bill priorities

A group known for its advocacy on progressive farm issues has teamed up with three non-farm organizations concerned about government spending on farm programs to detail a list of priorities for the upcoming farm bill.

The The National Coalition for Sustainable Agriculture and three other groups appealed to Congress on Tuesday advance a farm bill that promotes “sustainability rather than dependence on federal farm subsidies.”

The letter did not identify specific programs in need of overhaul, but called for “common-sense reforms to farm bill programs, particularly those related to commodities, conservation and crop insurance.”

In addition to NSAC, the letter also supports the R Street Institute, a free-market think tank, Taxpayers for Common Sense, a group known for its advocacy of fiscal restraint, and the left-leaning US Public Interest Research Group.

The groups are calling for investment in programs “proven to reach more producers at lower costs to taxpayers, such as research, education, training services and technical assistance, while eliminating subsidies that large industrial operations pay for the normal costs of doing business. ยป They also argue that farm bill spending should be tracked and made available on the USDA website. While the costs of the commodity program are already publicly available, the groups say “similar data on disaster relief and crop insurance should also be transparent.”

They also argue that the next farm bill should close “loopholes that facilitate waste, fraud and abuse in farm subsidy programs,” but does not identify the provisions that require reform.

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