WASHINGTON — A diverse group of taxpayer watchdogs, environmental and social justice organizations and faith groups joined to launch a major ad campaign today calling on Congress to stop putting millionaire farmers ahead of America’s family farms in the 2007 Farm Bill. The television and print ad campaign includes an aggressive $225,000 media buy in Minnesota, New Hampshire and Washington, DC.
The hard-hitting ads set up a direct contrast between the millionaire farmers that benefit most from the Farm Bill, versus small family farmers who are left out in the cold.
“The ball is clearly in the Senate’s court now and they need make the Farm Bill fair,” said Liam Brody, Farm Bill Campaign Director at Oxfam America, which paid for the campaign. “Our campaign asks Senators to stop handouts to millionaires who need it least, and instead help family farms that need it most.”
According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), which also endorsed the ad campaign, 67% of all farmers and ranchers do not collect government subsidy payments in United States. Among subsidy recipients, 10% collected 73% of all subsidies, amounting to $120.5 billion over 11 years.
"The billions of dollars in payments to profitable big farm operations leave only table scraps for small family farmers. Partly financed by federal subsidies, these large operations now have the capitol to outbid smaller farmers for land,” said Ken Cook, President of EWG. “Large farms grow larger, and rural America dries up in the process. Is this government subsidized consolidation in the agriculture sector in the best interest of American taxpayers?"
The first wave of the ad campaign was launched with TV buys in New Hampshire and Minnesota today and print ads in several Washington, DC publications, including The Hill and Congress Daily last week. In both Minnesota and New Hampshire, the Farm Bill is becoming a hot-button political issue, with decisions made by voters having national implications in Senate and Presidential elections.
“The Senate now faces a real test of moral leadership in changing unjust policy that bolsters millionaires at the expense of struggling family farms and people living in poverty at home and abroad,” said Rev. Jim Wallis, Editor and Executive Director of Sojourners/Call to Renewal. “This ad campaign strives to let them know we’re watching.”
“Our members agree that the current commodities programs exacerbate land consolidation and the deterioration of our natural resources, encourage overproduction and create a structure of agriculture that has benefited few, while leaving most producers working harder for less,” said Land Stewardship Project Policy Organizer Adam Warthesen. “Taxpayer dollars would better be used for conservation programs that encourage farmers to be better stewards of the land.”
This farm bill stinks of rotten programs and taxpayer waste," said Ryan Alexander, President of Taxpayers for Common Sense. "We have joined in this effort to make sure Senators know that they need to clean up farm programs, making them market oriented, less costly and trade compliant."
The campaign was endorsed by Oxfam America, Church World Service, Citizens Against Government Waste, Environmental Working Group, Land Stewardship Project, Progressive National Baptist Convention, National Catholic Rural Life Conference, NETWORK, Sojourners/Call to Renewal, and Taxpayers for Common Sense.