FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Sean Crowley – 202-572-3331 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Sharyn Stein – 202-572-3396 or email@example.com
(Washington, DC – October 2) New public opinion polls in Colorado, New York, Oregon, Virginia and Washington state found that more than three out of four (76% to 85%) of poll respondents in each state agreed that their U.S. senators should support shifting money from farm subsidies to conservation programs. If that reform effort succeeded, more than six out of 10 (62% to 77%) of the poll respondents in each state said they would have a more favorable opinion of Congress.
Those are two key findings of online interactive polls in those five states conducted September 18-21 by Zogby International for the nonprofit environmental group, Environmental Defense. The timing of the polls is significant because the Senate Agriculture Committee is expected to begin debating the Farm Bill as early as this week and is dominated by farm belt senators whose states benefit disproportionately from existing farm subsidies compared to the rest of Congress.
“These poll results suggest that senators outside the traditional farm belt will be taking a political risk if they support a status quo Farm Bill,” said Sara Hopper, an attorney for Environmental Defense. “As the polls show, senators can improve their standing with the public by supporting reductions in farm subsidies and increased funding programs that reward farmers for helping the environment.”
“Senators who vote to shift tax dollars from subsidies to protect farmland, restore wetlands and help farmers and the environment will be doing what their constituents want,” concluded Timothy Male, a senior scientist with Environmental Defense. “In the five polls, Democrats, Republicans, and Independents overwhelmingly supported Farm Bill reform, lowering crop subsidies and increasing conservation funding.”
Other important findings of the polls include:
- At least two out of three (66% to 76%) poll respondents in each state disapprove of the overall job that Congress has been doing in 2007.
- At least six out of 10 (62% to 77%) poll respondents in each state would have a more favorable opinion of Congress if it passed a Farm Bill that substantially increases funding for cleaner water; protects wildlife; preserves farmland; and conserves soil.
- About two out of three (64% to 70%) poll respondents in each state said that current farm subsidy spending is ‘somewhat’ or ‘way too much.’ Respondents were told that the Congressional Budget Office estimates that farm subsidies will cost a minimum of $40 billion in the next five years under an extension of the current Farm Bill. Similar subsidy spending would occur under the bill passed by the House of Representatives.
- At least seven out of 10 (70% to 78%) poll respondents in each state said they prefer reducing farm subsidies over tax increases or spending that increases the budget deficit to obtain more money to help farmers make our rivers, streams, lakes and bays cleaner; protect wildlife; and conserve soil.
- At least three out of four (76% to 85%) of poll respondents in each state agree that their U.S. senators should support a Farm Bill that shifts money from farm subsidies and invests it in programs that help farmers make our rivers, streams, lakes and bays cleaner; promote a healthier food supply; and produce renewable energy that could reduce our reliance on foreign oil.
- About eight out of 10 (78% to 84%) poll respondents in each state would have a more favorable opinion of Congress if it passed a Farm Bill that prevents people and corporations with million dollar incomes from receiving farm subsidy payments. The House-passed Farm Bill allows farmers and farming corporations with adjusted gross incomes of up to $1 million and farmer couples with adjusted gross incomes of up to $2 million to receive subsidy payments.
The complete poll results are available at www.environmentaldefense.org/farms.
The Farm Bill currently provides $4 billion in annual funding for conservation programs through which USDA partners with farmers and ranchers to provide clean water, fresh air, healthy soils and wildlife, and other public environmental benefits. Unfortunately, two out of three farmers are rejected when they apply for these conservation programs because this funding level is insufficient to meet the demand. Increasing conservation funding in the 2007 farm bill also would ensure that more states and regions get a fairer share of Farm Bill spending. Currently, seven states receive more than 50 percent of Farm Bill spending, which is unfair to the rest of America’s farmers.
The sample sizes of the five online interactive polls ranged from 529 to 811 adults. Margins of error ranged from +/-3.5 to +/- 4.3 percentage points. For information about the methodology and reliability of Zogby’s online polls, visit: http://interactive.zogby.com/