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GROUPS OPPOSED TO FARM BILL MEET TO DISCUSS STRATEGY
Agri-Pulse reports:

Groups on both ends of the political spectrum are plotting how to attack the farm bill when it begins to move in Congress.

Representatives from about two dozen groups met yesterday near Capitol Hill to hear from an economist and then to brainstorm messages that they can agree to take to Congress. The plan is for the coalition to come up with a joint statement that most of the groups can sign.

The organizations could not be more different on most issues. They range from the Heritage Foundation and Citizens Against Government Waste on the right to the Organic Consumers Association and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group on the left.

Crop insurance in the cross-hairs.

Based on yesterday's meeting, which Agri-Pulse attended, there are a few ideas on which the groups can likely agree. The most significant proposal they are likely to get behind is the AFFIRM Act proposed by Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and Rep. Ron Kind, D-Wis. The bill would make deep cuts in crop insurance and require disclosure of the amount of premium subsidies that individual farmers receive.

Caroline Kitchens of the R Street Institute, a free-market research group, argued in particular for disclosing crop insurance subsidies. "It's the only form of corporate welfare that is not made available to the public," she said.

One idea that didn't seem to get much traction yesterday was a call for Congress to split the farm bill. When that issue was raised, the discussion's moderator, Josh Sewell of Taxpayers for Common Sense, quickly said that "was an issue for another time."

Veronique de Rugy, of George Mason University's Mercatus Center, complained that splitting the farm bill didn't have the intended effect in 2013. "We thought splitting the farm bill would shame Republicans into not voting for subsidies," she said.


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