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Programs > Agriculture & Food: Focus on the Farm Bill > Commodity Programs

Commodity Programs

Farmers need an effective safety net that helps them mitigate risks from unexpected market swings as well as damaging changes in climate and weather patterns. Fair agriculture policies must ensure basic income security and provide opportunities for economic initiative for farmers at home and around the world, especially for smaller and medium-sized farms and ranches.  
Catholic social teaching helps us to assess agriculture and development policies on whether they encourage widespread diversity in farm ownership, advance rural community and economic development, and safeguard the livelihood of those who grow and harvest our foods. The Catholic church remains concerned that ownership of land and natural resources, and the marketing and distribution of food, is increasingly controlled by and benefits too few people.
The Church also looks with concern on trade distorting practices that negatively impact the livelihood of farmers in developing countries. Unfair trade practices, along with market speculation of food commodities, can seriously impact poor and hungry people, particularly children.  
The 2012 Farm Bill provides the opportunity to reform Commodity Programs (Title I) and respond to the requirements of justice. By improved targeting of farm support payments, and setting payment limits, we can provide a safety net to our nation’s working farmers that also meets the good of rural communities and our society in general.
Policy Priorities   
The Commodity Title (Title I) was established to provide a safety net for farmers and it is important to continue reasonable support for commodity and dairy farmers. In these times of national and economic hardship, policies should reflect shared sacrifice. Given current high commodity prices and federal budget constraints, agriculture subsidies such as direct payments, can be reduced overall.
Farm support payments should be targeted to small and medium-sized farms, especially those represented by traditionally under-represented groups. Government resources should aid those who truly need support and who practice environmentally sound and sustainable farming practices.
Farm Bill Recommendations
  • Establish a reasonable cap on commodity payments so that smaller producers are protected. The current level of assistance disproportionately favors larger industrial producers.
  • Significantly reduce trade distorting support programs that disadvantage farmers in poor countries. Some subsidies, supports, tariffs, quotas and other barriers undermine market access for poorer countries and local producers. 

Assuming overall reductions in Commodity program funds (mainly due to current high market prices), we recommend transferring those savings to other critical food and agricultural needs. First, reductions in subsidies should be dedicated to support domestic nutrition and international food aid and development programs that help people in need. Second, these resources should support adequate funding for conservation and rural development programs that promote stewardship of creation and help rural communities prosper.    




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Beginning Farmers and Ranchers

Conservation Programs

Crop Insurance Subsidies

Food Assistance and Nutrition Programs

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Market Concentration & Livestock Operations

Renewable Energy from Farms

Research, Education and Extension

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