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More massive subsidies for Agribusiness: Senator Stabenow announces passage of the 2018 Farm Bill

December 18, 2018

Last week, the 2018 Farm Bill finally passed in both the House and the Senate. Senator Debbie Stabenow, the ranking member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, announced the passage of the bill as a victory for bipartisanship.

In a released statement, Stabenow said: 

“The 2018 Farm Bill is a bipartisan victory that has Michigan on every page. This is a strong bill that will grow Michigan’s diverse agricultural economy and support our farmers, families, and rural communities. I’m pleased the Senate has moved forward with the bill and look forward to the House considering it soon.”

While the 2018 Farm Bill does not include the previously announced cuts to Food Stamps, it maintains an agricultural system that is ecologically unsustainable and benefits the agribusiness sector.

You can check out the Environmental Working Group’s Farm Subsidy Database, to look at the entire country and each state, including Michigan. 

You can see from this graphic below, where the subsidies have gone since 1995, which is primarily to commodity crops (corn, soy, etc), crop insurance, disaster programs and conservation programs. Of the $6.13 billion in farm subsidies since 1995 in Michigan, nearly half has gone to subsidize corn. ($3 billion) Most of the corn grow in Michigan either ends up as feed for farm animals or is used in processed foods. This is what the Farm Bill does, it subsidizes the current food system of agri-business and unhealthy food.

Included in the released statement from Senator Stabenow, are a list of organizations that endorses the 2018 Farm Bill and Senator Stabenow. Those organizations include, the Michigan Agri-Business Association, the Michigan Milk Producers Association, the Michigan Corn Growers Association, the Michigan Sugar Company, Michigan Vegetable Council, the Michigan Forest Products Council, the Cherry Marketing Institute and many others.

This list of entities are not made up of small farms, but the agri-business sector and their specific associations and councils. Most of these groups are part of the Michigan Farm Bureau and make it a point to influence public policy at the state  and federal level. The Michigan Farm Bureau was one of the largest donors in many of the political races in Michigan, making sure that their interests are represented in Lansing and in Washington. The Michigan Farm Bureau has created their own Political Action Committee, known as AgriPAC. Here is a sample of the kind of influence that they have from two prominent Michigan Legislators: 

The ongoing federal subsidies to agribusiness will mean more taxpayer money goes for corporate welfare and away from sustainable, local small farmers. The 2018 Farm Bill also perpetuates the exploitation of migrant farm labor and it contributes to a food system that contributes to Global Climate Change.

To read the actual 2018 Farm Bill, go to this link to read the 807 page document.

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