Growers of these plants in Kentucky are strongly opposed to this new proposal to end their programs.
An amendment to the 2013 Farm Bill was proposed, this week, by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California) and Senator John McCain (R-Arizona), which would eliminate eight of the USDA tobacco crop insurance programs.
This has caused concern to the Council for Burley Tobacco, which has asked farmers to contact their Senators.
The council notified tobacco farmers of the changes that have been proposed for the crop insurance program and have requested that they contact Senator Rand Paul (R-Bowling Green) in order to urge him to stand against this amendment to the Farm Bill. The council has stated that Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Louisville) has already announced his opposition to these changes.
The vote on the crop insurance amendment could occur in the Senate within the next two weeks.
This would occur as the Senate continues its debates over the Farm Bill. According to McCain and Feinstein, their crop insurance amendment will generate a savings of $333 million over a period of the next ten years. McCain explained that the USDA is offering “heavily subsidized crop insurance policies to tobacco farmers.” For instance, there are eight individual tobacco coverage products for which the taxpayer paid $34.7 million on subsidies in 2012.
Feinstein stated that “It’s time for the American taxpayer to get out of the business of subsidizing tobacco—once and for all. Tobacco costs our economy $200 billion in health care costs and lost productivity each year.” The crop insurance amendment would have the money that had previously been used for subsidizing tobacco into paying off the national debt, instead.
The president of the council, Rod Kuegel, explained that the “wild card” in this issue is Rand Paul. He has already spoken out against crop insurance subsidies and has shown that decreasing the national debt is one of his highest priorities. This effort of Paul’s is being seen as a possible presidential bid. That said, Kuegel explained that he thinks that it could be politically destructive for Paul to work against the wishes of the farmers within his home state.