An editorial cartoon recently printed by the Corpus Christi Caller-Times implied that as the result of the new farm bill, those who need assistance with food are starving to death while farmers get fat off subsidies. Nueces County Farm Bureau President Scott Frazier took offense and submitted the following letter to the editor in response. We thought we would share it with you.
By Scott Frazier
The American Gothic Revised cartoon printed on the editorial page of Monday’s paper is offensive to two very diverse groups of your readers.
Implying that those who need assistance with food are starving to death while farmers get fat off subsidies is misguided, misleading and inappropriate.
Farmers certainly understand those who need a helping hand. Many Coastal Bend families fall on hard times and need the aid provided through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs (SNAP), more commonly known as food stamps. Sure, funds for that program were cut. Just as the farm portion of the farm bill was cut. Just as all government programs are being cut.
The entire nature of agriculture programs was changed in the new farm bill. Direct payments are a thing of the past for farmers, and we certainly understand that in these times of tight budgets. About the only benefit left in the new legislation for local farmers is crop insurance. What is important to realize is that crop insurance is similar to auto or home insurance. You pay a premium and you receive partial recovery when disaster strikes. The difference is, farming is such a risky business that premiums are huge. That’s why taxpayers share the risk. And we all benefit from lower food prices and food security for America.
It’s also important to remember that insurance pays off only when disaster strikes. Without the safety net provided by the farm bill, in the form of crop insurance, I would be out of business. When we don’t make a crop—as has been the case the last couple of years due to ongoing drought—crop insurance pays just enough to let me put seed in the ground the next year to grow food and fiber for your family and mine.
Now here’s the kicker. Some 80 percent of the $100 billion a year farm legislation will go to nutrition programs, such as SNAP. Less than 10 percent goes to help farmers with crop insurance premiums. The rest of it goes to everything from helping rural communities to protecting environmentally sensitive land. Farmers are not getting fat from government coffers. They are surviving—when hard times hit because of drought or flood—with its help.
The farm bill is about feeding hungry people. The farm bill is about keeping farmers on the land to provide food for America. To portray it any other way is a disgrace and a disservice to Coastal Bend residents.
By the way—for those who know me—although the farmer in the cartoon looks like me physically, it has nothing to do with me fiscally.