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Chicago Council Releases Farm Bill White Paper

November 2, 2011

The Chicago Council on Global Affairs has released a white paper on the next farm bill that the co-chairmen of the council’s agriculture project presented to staff members of  the House and Senate agriculture committees and the super committee on September 23.

The Council’s proposal is estimated to save $7.5 billion per year, or $75 billion over ten years, relative to current farm bill policy.

The paper states that, “the coincidence of the 2012 farm bill and the deficit-reduction goals of Congress creates an ideal time to adopt a new food and farm policy built on revenue assurance for all crops and livestock, that provides more and healthier food, focuses on stewardship of working land rather than land idling, improves food security overseas, reinvigorates the agricultural research system, invests in rural productivity, and provides U.S. leadership in agricultural trade.”

The white paper makes several specific recommendations on how to transform food and farm policy, including:

  • Do away with all current commodity and crop insurance programs and instead create a single federally-supported revenue assurance program for all crops and livestock.
  • Consolidate conservation programs and reduce the size of the Conservation Reserve Program, with savings split between increased investments in working lands conservation and deficit reduction.
  • Increase access to healthy, nutritious food for all by protecting funding for hunger and nutrition safety net programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), while incorporating more nutritional considerations into these programs.
  • Transition international food aid to a primarily cash-based system.
  • Continue to fund export promotion activities and support free trade agreements.
  • Support economic development in rural America through promotion of agricultural research and investing in informational and transportation infrastructure.
  • Ending the ethanol tax break to reduce costs of their overall recommendations.

The report was authored by former World Food Program executive director Catherine Bertini, former USDA Under Secretary Gus Schumacher, and University of Illinois emeritus professor and former USDA Assistant Secretary for Economics Robert Thompson.

The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, founded in 1922 as The Chicago Council on Foreign Relations, is an independent, nonpartisan organization committed to influencing the discourse on global issues through contributions to opinion and policy formation, leadership dialogue, and public learning.

Categories: Conservation, Energy & Environment, Farm Bill, Nutrition & Food Access, Research, Education & Extension, Rural Development

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