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Vote Alert

NTU urges all Representatives to vote "YES" on the following amendments to H.R. 1947, the Farm Bill

June 19, 2013

As the House considers amendments to H.R. 1947, the Farm Bill, NTU urges all Representatives to vote “YES” on the following amendments. Though these amendments would improve the legislation by saving taxpayers money and reducing the heavy hand of government, Representatives are reminded that NTU continues to strongly oppose the underlying bill.

“YES” votes on the following amendments will be considered the pro-taxpayer position:

Crop Insurance Reform

#149: Kind-Petri: AFFIRM Act: This amendment would bring needed commonsense reforms to the overly generous taxpayer funded crop insurance benefits in H.R. 1947. These improvements include a $250,000 means test, a $50,000 payment cap, the same transparency requirements governing the current direct payments program, and a reduction of crop insurance industry payments. These reforms would help take taxpayers off the hook for crop insurance subsidies and indemnities as well as provide additional accountability. This amendment will be SIGNIFICANTLY weighted.

#79: Foxx: Farm Risk Management Election Program Cap: This spending safeguard for the shallow loss program would cap spending at 110% of CBO-predicted levels for the first five years in which payments are disbursed. This would at least help to protect taxpayers from unanticipated expenditures.

#28: Thompson-Fortenberry: Conservation Compliance: This common-sense amendment would require that farmers seeking taxpayer-funded crop insurance premium subsidy assistance comply with USDA standards for crops on wetlands and highly erodible areas.

#1: Carney-Radel: Strike Prohibition on Taxpayer Savings Summary: This amendment would permit the USDA Risk Management Agency to realize significant deficit reduction in the event of a renegotiation of the Standard Reinsurance Agreement. The USDA saved taxpayers almost $6 billion through a renegotiation in 2010.

#93: Fortenberry: Farm Program Payment Cap: This very modest amendment would cap commodity payments at $250,000 per year, per farm, preventing some taxpayer funds from being distributed to those who need them least.


Agriculture Policy

#62: Broun: Repeal of Permanent Law Regarding Dairy Support: This amendment would help to prevent the manufactured “crisis” under which Congress considers farm bills in order to prevent federal agriculture policy from reverting to the damaging and outdated supply-control and price supports enshrined in the “permanent law” of the Agriculture Act of 1949. Repealing that permanent law once and for all would provide a clean slate for moving forward with substantive, long-term reforms.

#55: Royce-Engel: U.S. International Food Aid Reform: This amendment would ease mandated use of domestically grown food aid, saving $215 million annually and enabling the U.S. to use aid funds more efficiently so as to better serve hungry people in other nations.

#43: Chabot-McClintock: Market Access Program (MAP) Repeal: This amendment would repeal Section 3102, MAP reauthorization, until 2018. MAP wastes taxpayer dollars by subsidizing the overseas advertising of private companies (and trade associations) like Welch’s, Sunkist, and Blue Diamond.

#178: Brooks: Emerging Markets Program (EMP) Termination: This amendment would eliminate the duplicative EMP market access program. Like other USDA MAPs, taxpayer dollars are funneled on behalf of private companies and trade associations in order to open up new markets. Beneficiaries of EMP include companies such as Coca Cola, Burger King, and Dunkin’ Donuts.

#11: Gingrey: End Rural Broadband Access Loan and Loan Guarantee Program: This amendment would end the wasteful Rural Broadband Access Program. In the past 90 percent of funds went to areas that already had access or were within 30 miles of large cities and other resources, making this an unnecessary expenditure.

#92: McClintock: Strike Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program: This amendment would repeal a duplicative and unnecessary provision that spends taxpayer dollars on farmers market advertisements and other activities better left to individuals and the private sector.

#45: Gibson-Grimm: End Olive Oil Import Restriction; #97: Walberg: Strike “Natural Stone” Carveout:These two amendments are good examples of harmful carve-outs that pro-taxpayer Representatives should oppose. Olive oil import restrictions and adding “natural stone” to a list of commodity products to be promoted by the USDA create preferential treatment under the law for favored sectors. Congress should instead work toward creating a less burdensome regulatory environment for all businesses and remove barriers to trade.

#10: Walorski: No Christmas Tree Tax: This amendment would strike the “Christmas Tree Tax,” a 15-cent tax to create a new coercive check off program that will promote the Christmas tree industry. Thanks to the annual Christmas season, private tree producers get plenty of advertising. There is no need to raise prices for consumers and force individual tree growers to participate.

#12: Radel: Repeal National Sheep Industry Improvement Center: Established in 1996, the National Sheep Industry Improvement Center is essentially an Ex-Im Bank for the sheep and goat industries that provides taxpayer-backed loans and loan guarantees to prop up what should be a private endeavor.

#80: Foxx: Sunset for Discretionary Programs: This amendment would sunset all discretionary programs in the bill upon the expiration of the 5-year authorization period. Instead of rolling over bad policy from year to year as a matter of course, this would create an opportunity to focus on the real priorities that reflect the needs of the time.

#76: Foxx: Federal Crop Insurance Disclosure: NTU urges Congress to make records of all agriculture subsidies fully transparent in keeping with previous policy regarding direct payments. This amendment is an important first step that will help increase accountability.

#13: Pitts: Federal Sugar Reform: This amendment would implement new free market reforms to current sugar policy, by repealing the Feedstock Flexibility Program, ending unnecessary trade restrictions, eliminating higher price support levels, revising domestic supply restrictions, and providing more flexibility to the USDA in administering quotas.

#194: Goodlatte-Scott: Dairy Reform: This amendment would replace the proposed Soviet-style Dairy Producer Margin Protection and Dairy Market Stabilization Programs with an optional margin insurance structure, eliminating some of the worst features of the Farm Bill’s dairy title (while still repealing undesirable elements of current policy). This is an important improvement over the underlying legislation, and would provide additional savings. However, NTU urges Congress to work toward getting the federal government out of the dairy market-manipulation altogether.


SNAP Reform

#8: Black: Termination of Partnership for Nutrition Assistance Initiative: This amendment would end the use of taxpayer funds for the “Partnership for Nutrition Assistance Program” that promotes SNAP enrollment. When faced with tough spending choices, government agencies shouldn’t waste resources on gimmicks such as games, soap operas, and other giveaways.

#151: Huelskamp & #101: Southerland: Work Requirements for SNAP Recipients: Both amendments would apply common-sense accountability measures to the growing nutrition program. Firm work requirements have been successful at encouraging assistance recipients to be more self-reliant, expediting the return of many to the workforce, and removing counterproductive incentives that discourage seeking full-time employment.


Energy Policy 

#83: Graves: End Ethanol Subsidies for Corn Growers: This amendment would prevent corn growers who sell their crop for ethanol production from receiving other farm subsidies and payments. Due to the diversion of corn from feedstocks to fuel, corn has continued to reach high prices that shouldn’t be further underwritten by taxpayers who are already paying more at the pump and grocery store due to corn ethanol.

#170: Marino: Repeal Biodiesel Education Program: This amendment would end the Biodiesel Education Program that awards federal grants to educate fleet operators and the public on the benefits of using biodiesel fuels over traditional fuel sources. Washington shouldn’t be picking winners and losers in the energy market or spending taxpayer dollars on research and development that should be conducted with private dollars.

The preceding amendments would all make pro-taxpayer revisions to the Farm Bill, but there are many that would add to the legislation’s price tag or boost regulatory red tape. NTU opposes such amendments.

Overall, H.R. 1947 marks a missed opportunity for serious reform. NTU was disappointed that several important amendments to save taxpayers money and help untangle the systemic problems within the Farm Bill did not pass muster with the Rules Committee. In particular, the Rules Committee should have allowed consideration of the amendments filed by Rep. Marlin Stutzman, which would divide the nutrition and agriculture components of the legislation into separate bills. In the future, when considering such expensive legislation with far-reaching consequences for all Americans both on and off the farm, NTU strongly urges the House to pursue an open amendment process that ensures the robust deliberation that taxpayers deserve and expect of their legislators.

Roll call votes on the above amendments to H.R. 1947 will be included in our annual Rating of Congress.

If you have any questions, please contact NTU Federal Affairs Manager Nan Swift at (703) 683-5700