NJ stiffed as farm subsidies become corporate welfare

STATE — There are fewer cash crops and more cash cropping in America as the Garden State is getting fewer returns than other states from farm subsidy programs.

New Jersey has 10,327 farms, but only 857 — or 8.3 percent — collected federal farm subsidies, according to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Of $256 billion in farm subsidies from commodity, crop insurance, and disaster programs and $39 billion in conservation payments paid between 1995 and 2012, New Jersey farmers collected just $234 million.

New Jersey ranks 42 among the 50 states in agricultural subsidies, with $94.4 million going to commodity subsidies, $53.3 million as crop insurance subsidies, $34.7 million for conservation, $50.6 million paid as disaster relief.

Data shows that 92 percent of farms in New Jersey did not collect subsidy payments, according to the USDA.

Just ten percent of New Jersey farms collected 63 percent of all the subsidies paid here, amounting to $113 million over 18 years.

Environmentalists say the massive program has become a form of corporate welfare instead of a way to make food affordable.

“Crop insurance costs have reached an all-time high and overwhelmingly flow to the largest and most successful farm businesses,” said Scott Faber, Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) vice-president for government affairs.

“While the top one percent of recipients haul in more than $220,000 in support per year the bottom 80 percent get only about $5,000,” said Faber. “Some very large farm businesses receive more than $1 million in insurance subsidies.”

Faber said EWG’s Farm Subsidy Database documents that free-spending federal crop insurance subsidies are badly in need of reform.

The organization contends that many farmers are producing food in ways that protect family farms and the environment, but federal policies are doing too little to reward good stewardship and too much to underwrite unsustainable crop and animal production by the largest and most successful agricultural businesses.

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