Tuesday Roundup: Citizens Support Farmers

Poll finds widespread support for farmers and crop subsidies • Cold medicine industry top Kentucky lobbyist • USDA lists 260 offices it will close • What 'independents'?

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A poll finds that despite pressures on Congress to cut spending, there is “strong support for either increasing or keeping spending about the same for subsidies to farmers and agribusinesses to help guarantee that prices for their crops don’t fall too low.”

The poll was done for the National Journal by the Princeton Survey Research Associates.  The poll found:

Thirty-nine percent of the public wanted the amount spent on such subsidies to go up, while 37 percent wanted it to stay the same. Only 19 percent wanted to see cuts, a significantly lower percentage than the 32 percent who wanted to see food stamps cut. Five percent of the poll respondents didn’t know or refused to answer the question.

The public showed enthusiasm for increasing the amount spent to promote local farmers’ markets, roadside stands, and other direct sales from producers to consumers. A near majority, 48 percent, wanted more money spent on this, while only 15 percent wanted such funding cut. Thirty-two percent wanted it kept about the same. The bill that was voted out of the Senate Agriculture Committee included expanded funding to help farmers sell directly to consumers. 

There was less enthusiasm for increasing food stamp spending. Only 20 percent said there should be increased food-stamp spending; 42 percent said spending should be kept about the same.

• The map above shows the location of the 260 offices the U.S. Department of Agriculture intends to close. Click on the map to get to a sheet that will show exactly which offices will be shuttered. (Click here or on the map to see a state by state listing of offices that will be closed.)

The closures are intended to save $150 million a year. The closures will include ag research stations (ten of them), food safety offices and rural development offices. “They wiped out the entire Midwest,” said Andrew Lorenz, deputy district manager for the Food Safety and Inspection Service in Minneapolis, whose office handles all federal inspections of meat, poultry and egg products in Minnesota, Montana, the Dakotas and Wyoming. 

Some 7,000 USDA employees took early retirement over the last year.

Here is a fact sheet on the closing of 43 rural development offices in 17 states, including the list of offices (by county) that will be closed.

•The biggest spending on lobbyists in Kentucky is the industry that produces cold medicines.

Huh? Well, remember that a key ingredient in over the counter cold medicines (pseudoephedrine) is also a necessary ingredient in the production of methamphetamine. State legislatures try to limit access to cold medicines as a way of stemming meth production — and the cold medicine industry lobbies against those laws.

This year the cold industry spent $486,053 in Frankfort, Kentucky’s capital. The Lexington newspaper writes:

The pharmaceutical companies that make and sell the various cold and allergy medicines which contain pseuodephedrine do have the money. While (the cold medicine industry group) and its allies cloak their message in concern for the average allergy and cold sufferer, the money tells a different story. They are protecting a profitable product.

• Forget race and class. The biggest political division in the U.S. is whether you call yourself a Republican or a Democrat. 

Oh, and those stories about how there are a lot of “independents” out there who will decide the election — Look at the new Pew Research Center report on partisanship and you’ll see that true independents (not those who just call themselves independent but then vote as regular Ds or Rs) account for only about 12 percent of the population. 

• The Post tells us that debate will begin this week on the farm bill in the Senate. 

The Des Moines Register says it could take several weeks for the Senate to come to a final decision on the bill. 

DTN reports that Senate Ag Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow says she has the 60 votes needed to end debate and move a vote on the farm bill. 

• Farmers on the Missouri River are still pulling sand out of their fields, left there by last year’s floods. 

 

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