EWG, Heritage issue farm bill papers as AEI holds conference
February 16, 2016
The Environmental Working Group and the Heritage Foundation each issued papers on farm legislation last Wednesday, the same day the American Enterprise Institute held a conference to evaluate the 2014 farm bill.
EWG's report focused on crop insurance and concluded that most farmers collect more money in crop insurance payouts than they pay in premiums on their federal policies over time, making the term "insurance" a misnomer.
The Heritage Foundation paper said the next president should base farm policy "on principles of free enterprise and economic freedom, not harmful government intervention. The focus should be on how the government makes it more difficult for farmers and ranchers to manage risk and run their operations."
At the American Enterprise Institute conference, Vincent Smith, a Montana State University president associated with AEI, said that, although members of both parties praised the farm bill in 2014 for delivering cost savings by introducing more efficient programs, the latest Congressional Budget Office analysis projects that it will exceed original cost estimates by $3 billion.
At a crop insurance conference in Indian Wells, Calif., Mary Kay Thatcher of the American Farm Bureau Federation said she thinks it was not a coincidence that EWG and Heritage issued their papers the same day that AEI held a conference.
Tara Smith, the vice president for government relations at Michael Torrey Associates and a crop insurance lobbyist, said that in its reports EWG doesn't talk about how much farmers paid in premiums or the losses they have suffered before getting payments.
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Farm Policy Facts, a newsletter supported by a variety of farm groups that is circulated widely on Capitol Hill, said EWG is an example of how it is "easier to sell fear than facts."
"Scaring people about everything from suntan lotion to farm policy, you name it, they probably have some pseudoscientific report for it," Farm Policy Facts said.
"And, if you just 'rush a donation to help EWG before midnight tonight,' the group can 'shut down' this problem once and for all, the email blasts to their followers usually reads."
–The Hagstrom Report