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Press Release

Current Farm Bill Would Cultivate Bigger Government, Nation's Largest Taxpayer Group Says
Lawmakers Should Look to "Fairness in Farm and Food Policy Amendment" Instead

For Immediate Release July 24, 2007
Pete Sepp, (703) 683-5700

(Washington, DC) -- Congress's flawed Farm Bill Extension Act must be made fairer to taxpayers, consumers, and small businesses, and the "Fairness in Farm and Food Policy Amendment" is one tool that will help to sow the seeds of reform; that's the message from the 362,000-member National Taxpayers Union (NTU), which joined citizen groups from across the political spectrum at a Capitol Hill news conference today to call for careful consideration of the Amendment, sponsored by Representatives Ron Kind (D-WI) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ).

"A $4 billion tax increase, a bigger giveaway to subsidy-sweetened sugar interests, and backward-looking policies toward dairy and other farm sectors are just three reasons why the Farm Bill Extension Act of 2007 should be sent back to the barn," said NTU Director of Government Affairs Kristina Rasmussen. "The Fairness in Farm and Food Policy Amendment will give taxpayers, consumers, and small businesses a bigger voice in how the nation's agricultural policy affects everyone, not just those receiving checks or price supports from the government."

The five-year, $250 billion Farm Bill recently reported out of the House Agriculture Committee is essentially a continuation (and in some cases an expansion) of the flawed federal approach to agriculture that has led to a cycle of huge payouts to agribusiness, high prices for consumers, and bailouts from taxpayers. The Fairness in Farm and Food Policy Amendment would offer several sorely-needed reforms to help break this cycle, such as:

  • Genuine deficit reduction of $10 billion over ten years, as opposed to the current legislation's $4 billion tax hike that will only be poured into new spending programs.
  • Tougher income-based limits on eligibility ($250,000 per farming entity) for federal subsidies, as well as gradual reductions in automatic payments.
  • Reliance on risk-management programs that could reduce demand for near-annual bailout programs that often find their way into supplemental appropriations bills.
  • Programs that emphasize freer trade on the world market instead of tariffs, in order to build a more sustainable base for exchange of farm commodities. In addition, dairy farmers would be allowed to opt-out of harmful price support schemes.

Rasmussen, whose extended family continues to own a small farm, noted that while the Kind-Flake Amendment is not perfect (one worrisome provision extends payment programs to specialty crops), the proposal represents the best hope to restore some fiscal discipline and common-sense economics to the Farm Bill Extension Act.

"For too long, lawmakers have crafted farm legislation that weighs entirely in favor of special interests rather than the national interest," Rasmussen concluded. "Any properly- balanced farm bill should take account of the real concerns that taxpayers, consumers, and small businesses have long expressed -- and Congress has largely ignored."

NTU is a non-profit, non-partisan organization working for lower taxes, smaller government, and economic freedom at all levels. Note: Detailed testimonies, letters, and studies on NTU's farm policy views are available at