Feinstein, McCain propose amendment to end crop insurance for tobacco | TheFencePost.com

Feinstein, McCain propose amendment to end crop insurance for tobacco

-The Hagstrom Report

Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and John McCain, R-Ariz., today introduced an amendment to the farm bill to end subsidies for crop insurance premiums for tobacco.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates the amendment would save $593 million over 10 years, Feinstein and McCain said.

"The federal government shouldn't be in the tobacco business," said Feinstein. "Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death, responsible for almost half a million deaths in the United States each year. Ending these wasteful subsidies will help save lives, lower cancer rates and put a dent in the nearly $300 billion that tobacco use costs us each year."

The federal government stopped price support payments to tobacco farmers after 2004, and tobacco growers were paid nearly $10 billion to transition away from the quota system of tobacco production. However, tobacco is still eligible for subsidies for premium payments under the federal crop insurance program.

About 10,000 tobacco-growing farms remain in the United States, down from nearly 180,000 farms in the 1980s, but the United States is still the fourth largest tobacco-producing country in the world, harvesting almost 700 million pounds of tobacco each year, Feinstein and McCain said.