One of the big interests in American politics is agriculture. This was evident in Iowa’s recent “first-ever” ag summit, which invited GOP presidential nominee hopefuls to the state to discuss agricultural policy.
Political conservatives hold differing views over agricultural policies, and things can get heated. For example, Liz Mair, a digital strategist for Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s presidential campaign, was forced to resign this week after Tweets unfavorable to Iowa agriculture (and subsidies) were unearthed.
And other cracks in conservative thought about ag policy are appearing: some long-standing practices, including crop insurance, are facing political challenges. Here’s what has happened recently…but expect more debate in the future.
Senator Jeff Flake (R-Arizona), a leading critic of crop insurance, indicated “he’s likely to use next week’s debate on the Senate budget resolution to test support for cuts in the program.” He thinks this can provide “a good test vote.” Flake said, “Any of this ag subsidy stuff we’re going to go after.”
A report issued by the Government Accountability Office on Wednesday is likely to provide Flake and his allies some ammunition in the debate. The report said that cutting premium subsidies on the highest-earning policyholders would have a “minimal effect” on the program while saving taxpayers millions of dollars.
But senators from states with farm interests will certainly push back. Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kansas) said this:
“There are all sorts of folks who, under the banner of reform, aren’t aware of the unintended consequences. We look forward to that debate. I think it’s nothing that we have not expected.”