President Bush Blasts Farm Subsidies for Rich Farmers

April 30, 2008 3:35:29 PM PDT
President Bush today blasted the US farm subsidy program, saying the wealthiest Americans shouldn't qualify.Critics call it corporate welfare. But instituting change to benefit more Valley farmers has proven to be very difficult.

Farmers who grow corn, soybeans, rice and wheat benefit from federal crop subsidies even with crop prices at a record high. Frustrations over the farm bill prompted President Bush to criticize the program. The President said "Americans are concerned about rising food prices. Unfortunately congress is considering a massive bloated farm bill that would do little to solve the problem. The bill congress is now considering failed to eliminate subsidy payments to multi-millionaire farmers."

Most farmers who receive subsidies are in the Midwest. It's estimated less than ten-percent of California farms get subsidies.

The Environmental Working Group identified the Valley's top subsidized farms as SJR Farming in Los Banos, which received 2-point-2 million in cotton subsidies in 2006. Hansen Ranches of Corcoran received 1-point-5 million and Dublin Farms of Corcoran took in 1-point-4 million.

The Bush administration wants to impose cut-off points for wealthy farmers. Barry Bedwell of the California Grape and Treefruit League said "What has really got all the attention is the reality that corn prices have sky-rocketed so much so it's easy to understand when people are saying, 'well why would you even have a subsidy program for corn when I know my grocery prices are going up."

The farm bill includes three-billion dollars for marketing and improving the safety of the types of fruits and vegetables grown in the valley. Bedwell just wants more local growers to benefit. He said "I think that's a fair assessment of looking at the sentiment in California, particularly in ag saying yes now is the time for specialty crop investment."

President Bush added "Its not the right time to ask american families who are already paying more in the checkout line to pay more in subsidies for wealthy farmers."


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