Taxpayers are contributing billions more than necessary for farmers’ crop insurance, according to a new report from the Environmental Working Group (EWG).
The study, which examined the 2012 crop year, argues that big subsidies channel farmers into lavish policies that in some cases paid drought-afflicted farmers last year more than they would have earned with a good harvest.
Kendra Short (center) works with students on a dance number at her studio in Belleville, Kan. Short and her husband Shannon have applied for the Rural Opportunity Zone program in Republic County, and are building a house.
When the Homestead Act of 1862 made land in the Great Plains virtually free, people rushed in to settle rural Kansas. But 150 years later, the dust has truly settled. Between 2000 and 2010, more than half of Kansas counties declined in population — many by 10 percent or more.
The Food and Drug Administration is ratcheting up inspections this year on cantaloupe farms and other processing facilities throughout the country. The increased scrutiny is in direct response to two large-scale outbreaks of deadly food borne bacteria.
Both outbreaks were tied directly to tainted cantaloupe. Salmonella on melons from Indiana and listeria on some from Colorado killed 36 people.
The repercussions were felt by cantaloupe growers throughout the country - including Michael Hirakata in Colorado’s Arkansas River valley.
And when the hog market plunged to 8 cents a pound in 1998, Iowa producer Randy Hilleman decided it was time to make a change. Hilleman raises Berkshire pigs, a breed that’s fattier than traditional pigs and costs a little more to raise. Back then, that was hurting him.
“If we took them into Marshalltown, [Iowa] to the big packing plant, we would get docked because they’re too fat,” Hilleman said. “What they pay on is lean, and we like to have some fat on ours.”