A federal report concludes the “Freedom to Farm” policy has widened the gulf between small and large farms. The General Accounting Office report found just 14 percent of federal farm payments in 1999 went to small farms, a “dramatic” four-year decline while payments to large-scale operations doubled during that time period. The average federal payment to a small farmer was about four thousand dollars in 1999; large farmers’ payments averaged nearly 65-thousand dollars. Iowa Senator Tom Harkin says the report confirms his suspicions that the “Freedom to Farm Act” benefitted large operations at the expense of small farmers. Harkin says the study proves the Ag Committee, which he leads, should consider ways to ensure federal farm payments are distributed fairly.
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