Harrop: Feds subsidize risk on farms as well as beaches
As global warming causes more serious and frequent shoreline flooding, indignation rises over federal programs helping owners of beach properties rebuild in places the ocean wants to take back. Superstorm Sandy was a lollapalooza in terms of waterfront damage and demands on the Federal Emergency Management Agency's resources.
But while asking why taxpayers must subsidize waterfront development in areas under increasing threat from climate change, we should ask why weather-related questions stop at the shoreline. The federal government spends a fortune protecting farmers' incomes in drought-prone regions that are going to get hotter and dryer. That encourages people to grow thirsty crops where they shouldn't.
"The federal crop insurance program is far worse in many ways than the flood insurance in the incentives it gives farmers to do things that are risky," Craig Cox, who covers farm policy at the Environmental Working Group, told me.
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