TCS Statement on House Passage of Ag-Only Farm Bill

TCS Statement on House Passage of Ag-Only Farm Bill

Agriculture,  | Quick Take
Jul 11, 2013  | 4 min read | Print Article
For Immediate Release                                                                                     Contact: Josh Sewell
July 11, 2013                                                                                                                 (202) 546-8500

Statement of Ms. Ryan Alexander, president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, on House Passage of Ag-Only Farm Bill

Washington, DC – Today, the House of Representatives passed an agriculture-only farm bill in a staggering, undemocratic bait-and-switch that will bury taxpayers under billions of subsidies in perpetuity. In fact, the bill reduces the deficit less than ag-only provisions in the Senate farm bill, House Budget, or President’s budget request. It is worse than failed opportunity for reform; it is fiscal malpractice.

Despite House leadership’s repeated promises that the new ag-only bill is exactly the same as the amended farm bill that failed last month (plus repeal of 1949 permanent law), in reality the changes are more problematic and far-reaching. The bill passed today strips out many of the 2018 sunset provisions contained in the previous version making the subsidy ridden 2013 bill the new permanent law. This is not repeal. It is repeal and replace.

Instead of simply repealing outdated allotments and quotas, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013 (H.R. 2642) will trade discredited direct payments for open-ended market distorting subsidies and the continuation of command and control price supports. New shallow loss income entitlement programs, expanded crop insurance, market distorting sugar subsidies, new profit margin insurance for dairy, and resurrected government-set prices will be the law of the land, locking in billions of taxpayer subsidies despite the fact that agriculture is expected to reap record profits this year.

The new House bill will spend $1 billion more than the similar provisions in the Senate bill and contains less than half of the deficit reduction that was promised in the House budget or called for by President Obama in his budget. Instead of putting nearly $100 billion toward deficit reduction from eliminating direct payments and reining in out-of-control-spending on crop insurance, this bill squanders savings on new entitlements and spends $9 billion more on crop insurance. Taxpayers are also unlikely to realize the promised $13 billion in savings given that crop insurance has exceeded its estimated cost every year since adoption of the last farm bill. That’s hardly the spending restraint we have been promised by House Republican leadership.

Worse yet, all attempts to amend or debate reforms to this $200 billion legislation were shot down. To deny amendments and reforms makes bifurcation of the nutrition and farm portions of the farm bill virtually meaningless. And less than twelve hours is certainly not enough time to review a new 600+ page bill that makes historic changes to farm policy.

Instead of using procedural gimmicks to jam through a trillion dollar farm bill, Congress should go back to the drawing board and devise a more fiscally responsible solution that saves at least $100 billion and enacts a more cost-effective, accountable, transparent, and responsive farm safety net.


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