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Published November 26, 2009, 12:00 AM

Letter - Farmers have lavish crop subsidies

Taxpayers have a right to know how Congress has lavished the American farmer with federal crop insurance premium subsidies totaling $5.410 billion for the 2009 crop, paying about 60 percent of the farmers’ premiums, while providing huge “administrative margins” and “underwriting gains” of $5.262 billion in crop year 2008 for their insurance company friends and agents.

To the editor:

Taxpayers have a right to know how Congress has lavished the American farmer with federal crop insurance premium subsidies totaling $5.410 billion for the 2009 crop, paying about 60 percent of the farmers’ premiums, while providing huge “administrative margins” and “underwriting gains” of $5.262 billion in crop year 2008 for their insurance company friends and agents. All to reward these titled “crop insurance companies,” which have transferred most of the risk to taxpayers and the financial gains to themselves, while ignoring the fact that farmers have enjoyed record crop prices and could pay their own premiums.

Today’s high crop prices and hidden political governance has driven USDA-insured crop income exposure from $44 billion in 2005 to $90 billion in 2008. Leaving taxpayers with the bill for insuring the 2008 crop at a stunning $9.233 billion, compared to $2.587 billion for the 2005 crop, all in a period of good farm yields and record farm income and farm net worth.

The “farmers premium subsidies” jumped from $2.337 billion in 2005 to insure 246 million acres to $5.696 billion in 2008 to insure 272 million acres. Crop insurance costs now run above $15 billion, which is as high or higher than the present traditional “direct crop subsidy payments” debated for two years in Congress, which both President Bush and President Obama called for cuts!

The House and Senate Ag Committees told taxpayers they had soundly budgeted the farm bill, where $22 billion is documented as the five-year cost of federal crop insurance for the 2008 Farm Act. Which means only $7 billion remains for the next three crops.

What will Congress and the administration cut, is the question taxpayers deserve answers on today. All as 47 million Americans have no health insurance, while farmers have super federal insurance coverage for their crops!

Alan Roebke

Alexandria, MN

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