Washington—Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) introduced a bipartisan 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.
“The federal government shouldn’t be in the tobacco business,” said Senator 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.
Despite declining rates of domestic-tobacco use, international use is rising rapidly. Tobacco causes nearly 6 million deaths worldwide per year. That number is expected to rise to more than 8 million deaths annually by 2030.