Friday, February 12, 2010

Advocate says Obama has broken promise to stop subsidy payments to passive 'farmers'

President Obama has done some things to help rural America, but he has failed to follow through on a central promise of his campaign's rural agenda, writes Chuck Hassebrook for the Nebraska-based Center for Rural Affairs. In Iowa in October 2007, Obama outlined his rural platform, including "pledging immediate action to close loopholes by limiting payments to active farmers who work the land and their landlords," Hassebrook writes. "Last month the Obama administration joined its predecessors in failing to act by releasing regulations that continue this gaping loophole," by allowing otherwise passive investors to count as active farmers if they participate in conference calls about the operation.

Hassebrook, who was apparently considered for a post in the Department of Agriculture, characterizes the decision as not just a forgotten campaign promise, but a dismissal of the "centerpiece of Obama’s rural policy and his central message to rural America about the kind of change he offered." He gives Obama credit for preventing "payment limitation rules from hurting smaller farmers who receive payment far below the limit," but says the president would be well served to return to his other rural commitments. "Our communities have real opportunities to advance," Hassebrook writes. "But one key to our future is a federal government that works with us to capitalize on those opportunities, rather than against us by subsidizing agricultural concentration." (Read more)

No comments: