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As drought hits Midwest, USDA expects record 2012 farm income

The Department of Agriculture says U.S. farmers will post record incomes this year in spite of a drought that’s hit the Midwest.

The USDA estimates farmers will receive a net income of $122.2 billion – almost four percent more than 2011, because of higher prices and crop insurance.

That has critics of farm subsidies questioning government assistance for drought-stricken farmers.

“I think we really need to ask ourselves a serious question: Is that a safety net or is that a trampoline?” said Craig Cox, a senior vice president at the Environmental Working Group.

But Mike Doherty at the Illinois Farm Bureau says drought years make federal dollars vital to the agriculture industry.

“The years like this, where once in every fifty years we have a catastrophic weather aberration, we’re able to provide a safety net not just to farmers, but a safety net to communities and to counties that are highly rural dependent,” Doherty said.

USDA statistics indicate farm subsidies this year will be roughly six percent higher than last year.

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