Record $16B crop insurance payout stirs subsidy debate
DES MOINES, Iowa – Farmers will be paid a record $16 billion in crop insurance claims for 2012 because of the widespread drought, a staggering amount that has critics calling for changes to what they say is an inefficient taxpayer subsidy the government cannot afford.
While farmers buy crop insurance from private companies, the federal government subsidizes their premiums and picks up the tab for losses over a certain amount. One analyst estimates the federal tab for 2012 will come to about $11 billion.
It is the second year in a row that U.S. farmers have received record crop insurance payments as flooding and drought in 2011 was followed by an even worse drought last year. The $16 billion in payments also comes as lawmakers working on a new farm bill have been considering a shift from disaster relief to crop insurance as a more predicable way of protecting farmers from natural disasters.
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