For Immediate Release
Contact: Josh Sewell
Statement of Ms. Ryan Alexander, president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, on Senate passage of S. 954, the Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2013
Washington, DC – Today, instead of making long anticipated reforms to farm bill programs, the Senate passed a bill 66-27 that costs nearly a trillion dollars, employs numerous budget gimmicks that seek to mislead taxpayers, and resurrects failed policies from farm bills of yesteryear.
While S. 954 took a few baby steps toward eliminating unnecessary and outdated subsidy payments, as a whole, it fails to acknowledge modern farming practices or our nation’s glaring $16.8 trillion debt. Furthermore, the bill continues to funnel cash to agriculture country even though the sector expects record farm profits this year. Instead of determining which safety net programs were the most efficient and effective during last year’s drought, the Senate threw more money at the highly subsidized federal crop insurance program, resurrected government-set target prices, and piled on at least three new agribusiness income guarantee programs that disproportionately shift normal costs of doing business squarely onto taxpayers’ backs.
This $955 billion bill isn’t a legitimate deficit reduction measure. It is an Agriculture Committee baseline protection bill. It spends nearly 60 percent more than the last farm bill passed just five years ago. Senate Agriculture Committee leaders attempt to take credit for $6 billion in already mandated sequestration savings and fail to account for more than $6 billion in crop subsidy payments that will occur outside the ten-year budget window. In addition, fully two-thirds of the “savings” occur after this bill expires in 2018, and the Congressional Budget Office estimates that if all discretionary programs are fully funded, the bill would cost taxpayers an additional $40 billion in deficit spending over ten years.
There is significant room for greater deficit reduction, accountability, cost-effectiveness, and transparency in federal agriculture policy. The House of Representatives can set us on the right path forward by rejecting the Senate’s status quo bill, eliminating its special interest carve-outs, and peeling back layers of the already bulging subsidy sandwich.
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