Crop insurance subsidies questionedby Mark Steil, Minnesota Public Radio
WORTHINGTON, Minn. — With a new farm bill possibly reaching the U.S. Senate floor next week, an environmental group wants Congress to cut crop insurance subsidies when it takes up the legislation.
The Environmental Working Group based in Washington says the federal government spent almost $7.5 billion to subsidized farmers' crop insurance premiums nationwide last year, with almost $500 million going to Minnesota. For an individual farmer the federal money paid 62 percent of the cost of their crop insurance premium.
Environmental Working Group President Ken Cook said the largest 10 percent of the nation's farms received more than half the subsidies.
"The big dogs in the world of agriculture reap the big benefits," said Cook.
But Minnesota DFL Rep. Collin Peterson said the money is well spent.
"We're spending 6 [percent] to 7 percent of our GDP on food," said Peterson. "The closest nation to us is 14 percent. The little bit of money that we're spending here to give people an opportunity to hedge their risk is paying off for the American consumer."
Peterson is the most senior Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee and helped write the current crop insurance program.