Farm Bill Puts Econonsense, Insurance Industry, Food Faddism Before Food
June 24, 2012 • 11:26AM

The Senate voted up 64-35, on June 21, a miserable draft five-year bill, "Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012" (S.3240). It goes in July to the House of Representatives, preparatory to having a new law in place when the current five-year farm law, passed in 2008, expires Sept. 30.

No surprise: the key features of the Senate bill, summarized below—e.g. biofuels and bioproducts, privateer crop insurance, "eat local" a la Prince Charles—are a bipartisan mish-mash of the same London imperial-serving policies imposed in recent decades, which have looted nations, and brought the world to the phase of mass food shortages we face today.

"Risk" and "risk management" are the lead focus of the new farm bill, for the first time ever, boast Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Pat Roberts (R-Kansas), the Senate Agriculture Committee chair and ranking member, respectively.

In the course of the LPAC drive for threefold emergency actions, Glass-Steagall, national credit, and NAWAPA XXI, the incompetence and evil expressed in current agriculture/food policy can be struck down, and replaced with urgent emergency and long-term measures, as people come to grasp real economics.

Knowing the details of the latest Senate action doesn't matter, but seeing how a few of the key elements of the bill further the London intent of destruction, is a useful object lesson. In brief, the new bill is green, and a multi-billion dollar hand-out to privateer insurers. It is a mockery of millions of Americans too poor to have even the means to eat.

The "math" is that $23 billion in cuts were found for the next five years, in deference to the 2011 Obama/GOP deal to cut government, so that the farm law would entail $500 billion from FY2013 to 2018.

Beyond the math, the farm bill's $100 billion a year, continues a situation where the Agriculture Department disburses 80% of this—$80 billion, just to give minimal food to needy Americans! This is done under USDA food stamps (SNAP, Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program). At present, 46 million Americans are enrolled. SNAP implementation is to be tightened to find grounds for further cuts.

Of the remaining $20 billion a year, about half goes to the "risk management" farmer insurance system, a conduit for public money to the private insurance cartel; and what is left goes to all other purposes, in which, for example, the USDA Forestry Department has only a pittance with which to manage forests and fight the current devastating fires.

* $9 BILLION/YEAR SUBSIDIES TO THE PRIVATE INSURANCE CARTEL. The Agricultural Risk Coverage program involves such cartel firms as Wells Fargo, Ace, Ltd. (headquartered in Switzerland) and others, to write revenue and crop insurance policies for farmers, for crop damage and lost revenue. The Federal government pays 62% of these policies. As farmers often cynically point out: "My crop gets ruined by flood (drought, hail, etc). I'm OK; I get my insurance check. But you—you don't get your food..."

* BIO-FUELS, BIO-PRODUCTS. The raft of grants and loans continues to further food-for-non-food-use. These include the "Biomass Crop Assistance Program," the "Biorefinery Assistance," and many others, in the "Title IX Energy Section" of the ostensible agriculture/food bill.

* INITIATIVES FOR LOCAL NICHE FARMING, National Organic Certification, "Rural Micro-Entrepeneurial Assistance Program," and so on. These are all directly in accord with the White House, and Prince Charles' drive for "healthy" living, while the world starves.

Meantime, the de-structuring continues of the once-productive rural landscape of farming, regional food provision, and surplusses across the United States. Now the food chain is globalized, tenuous, and vulnerable-to-the-max in the context of financial shocks