As I was recently attempting to determine which Republican presidential candidate was least in the pocket of Big Agriculture, I came across Rand Paul's record. It's mostly strongly anti-subsidy except one case where he voted against an amendment that would end subsidized crop "insurance" for tobacco farmers. Since he already alienated the agro lobby with his other votes, this vote doesn't make sense to me even from a purely corrupt bargain standpoint.

Has Rand Paul ever talked about this vote and why he voted the way he did? If not, is there a procedural/strategic issue that makes this vote different, legitimate justification that applies only to subsidies for tobacco farmers (and not to the plethora of other subsidies Paul voted against), or specific tie between Rand Paul and the Tobacco lobby that could explain this one singular deviation from a strong anti cronyism record?

  • It could be that there are other factors affecting tobacco farmers' health. Commented Aug 14, 2015 at 9:36
  • @PointlessSpike good point, Tobacco farmers could be different. Just to be clear though, we're talking about "insurance" which gives farmers money if the price of their agricultural product drops or if there is bad weather, not health insurance.
    – lazarusL
    Commented Aug 14, 2015 at 13:14
  • Ah. Yes. But even then, it could be different- think about it. If they weren't given extra money, they could be driven to promote smoking. Commented Aug 14, 2015 at 13:20

3 Answers 3


As far as I can tell, Paul's never talked about why, but it's not hard to figure out the reason. Kentucky's the #2 tobacco growing state in the nation. He's simply trying to get money for farmers in his state.


  • 13
    AKA - subsidies are only bad when they're for other people line of thinking Commented Jul 25, 2019 at 16:22
  • I agree with this answer, but still it is speculation. We don't really know for sure what is the reason. Commented Jul 25, 2019 at 18:01

I don't know how to properly read American bills, but from my reading of the amendment he voted down, it seems like all it did was single out tobacco producers as exempt from federal crop insurance.

All I could find of the amendment forwarded by Feinstein was this;

The amendment is as follows:

(Purpose: To prohibit the payment by the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation of any portion of the premium for a policy or plan of insurance for tobacco)

  On page 1101, between lines 5 and 6, insert the following:


   Section 508(e) of the Federal Crop Insurance Act (7 U.S.C. 
 1508(e)) (as amended by section 11030(b)(2)) is amended by 
 adding at the end the following:
   ``(9) Prohibition on payment of portion of premium by 
 corporation for tobacco.--
   ``(A) In general.--Effective beginning with the 2015 
 reinsurance year, notwithstanding any other provision of this 
 subtitle, the Corporation shall not pay any portion of the 
 premium for a policy or plan of insurance for tobacco under 
 this subtitle.
   ``(B) Deficit reduction.--Any savings realized as a result 
 of subparagraph (A) shall be deposited in the Treasury and 
 used for Federal budget deficit reduction.''.

Source: https://www.congress.gov/congressional-record/2013/05/23/senate-section/article/S3797-2

Edit: Direct link to bill, found by clicking through link

  • 2
    Please add a link to where you found this.
    – JJJ
    Commented Jul 25, 2019 at 14:48
  • 2
    So is the implicit argument that even if he believes subsidies are bad in general, he doesn't think one kind of farmer should be singled out for political reasons?
    – lazarusL
    Commented Jul 25, 2019 at 18:37
  • @lazarus That is the impression I get. Though, that's mostly due to stuff he's done historically. (I may have missed something where he explained his reasoning, or simply forgotten about it)
    – bobsburner
    Commented Jul 29, 2019 at 9:35

Tobacco is a major cash crop in his home state of Kentucky, so it benefits him politically to oppose this legislation. But perhaps he felt that the legislation unfairly singled out one industry, rather than phase out subsidies across the board.

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