President's Budget Could Help Family Farmers

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Washington, DC (February 7, 2005) International agency Oxfam America welcomed today's announcement that the President's budget calls for agricultural payment caps in the Fiscal Year 2007 Budget request. Most US agricultural commodity payments benefit a small percentage of the biggest farms and corporations, while hurting family farms in the US and abroad.

"This is a long-overdue reform of the agricultural subsidy program, "said Raymond C. Offenheiser, President of Oxfam America. "The Congress must follow the lead of the President and move swiftly to enact agricultural commodity payment caps."

The US spends up to 16 billion dollars a year in farm payments that are heavily concentrated in large-scale commercial operations. In the 2002 crop year, the government paid three billion dollars on domestic cotton subsidies alone, with most of these (79%) going to the top 10% of the biggest operations. Many small family farmers are ineligible for government support because they do not grow a select group of subsidized commodities.

"The subsidy system was originally created to help poor farmers during the depression era but the sad irony is that they do an awfully poor job of helping America's family farms," continued Offenheiser. "Taxpayer funds would be better used to support development in rural America, targeting the farmers that really need help."

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