Commentary by National Black Farmers Association President John W. Boyd, Jr
WASHINGTON -''It is important to have a farm bill in 2012 that provides an equitable measure of support for all farmers. Currently the largest 10% of farms receive 74% of federal farm subsidies, while 60% of American farmers receive no direct support.''
''There is talk in the halls of Congress of leaving the farm bill on the table until 2013. That is unacceptable. We need a good farm bill in 2012 that includes programs to help small and socially disadvantaged farmers.
''Cutting important programs - as proposed by some members of congress - such as 2501, office of advocacy and outreach at USDA or beginning farmers programs will hurt the existence of small family farmers. The time to address these and other important issues to small farmers is right now. We cannot wait another four years without stronger programs for small farmers.
''With budget issues facing American agriculture we must face the fact that there are issues with farm subsidies and those who abuse the subsidy program.
''For years Congress has turned a blind eye on the issue of fraud and abuse in the US farm subsidy program. The gap between large scale corporate farmers, some who exceed $2,000,000 in multiple years, and small farmers would be a shock to the American people. Yet the gap continues to widen, especially for Black and other minority groups. The NBFA and others have supported a cap and some have suggested a cap of $500,000 per entity. Without caps in the farm subsidy program there will continue to be wasteful spending by Congress, with little or no oversight.
''The farm subsidy program is supposed to be a safety net for farmers, but over the years it has become more a detriment for the small family farmers who can not compete with the large scale corporate farmers. Since the largest operations receive the bulk of government payments, they are able to use tax dollars to help buy out their smaller neighbors, increasing consolidation and helping to continue the hollowing out of rural America.''
''The time has come for both the House and Senate leadership in Congress to address this long standing problem and strengthen programs that assist small family farmers.''