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Statement of Serena Unrein, Public Interest Advocate for Arizona PIRG, on the Farm Bill being voted on by the U.S. Senate:
“Arizona PIRG urges Senators McCain and Flake to vote no on The Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2013 (S. 954). As it stands, this bill would keep the gravy train flowing for big agribusiness, locking in their unjustified corporate handouts for the next five years. With Congress focused on how to fix the budget, our elected leaders shouldn’t squander the opportunity to cut off these outrageous giveaways to Big Ag once and for all.
“This bill will continue the current practice of disproportionately subsidizing the largest agribusinesses, which are already profitable and don’t need taxpayer handouts. Between 1995 and 2011, taxpayers shelled out $277 billion in agricultural subsidies, and the largest agribusinesses have made out like bandits. While the Big Ag lobby claims to stand up for small farmers, 74 percent of these subsidies went to just 4 percent of agribusinesses, and 93 percent of farms in Arizona do not collect subsidy payments. What’s more, a staggering $18.2 billion of these subsidies have gone to junk food ingredients like high fructose corn syrup, at a time when America struggles with an obesity epidemic.
“While the bill makes some progress in limiting crop insurance payments to wealthy farmers and ending the notorious direct payments program, it does not do enough to end this wasteful use of taxpayer dollars. And it even creates a costly new subsidy scheme that would lock in the currently high corn and soy prices, once again directing billions of taxpayer dollars to giant agribusinesses.
“Congress needs to make serious changes to this legislation or reject it entirely. Arizona’s Senators should stand up for taxpayers, not Big Ag.”
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