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NTU urges all Representatives to vote “NO” on H.R. 2642, the “Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act”
July 11, 2013
NTU urges all Representatives to vote “NO” on H.R. 2642, the “Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act” or Farm Bill. NTU has long advocated for splitting the agriculture and nutrition assistance portions of the bill in order to better achieve sound policies; however, despite this step forward, the legislation remains deeply flawed.
While NTU supports the decision of House Leadership to consider an “ag-only” Farm Bill, repeal the permanent law, and end direct payments, it is also essential to permit an open amendment process that allows for an opportunity to improve the legislation.
For instance, legislators should be able to vote on common-sense reforms such as means-testing, subsidy caps, and increased transparency. As it stands, the bill would boost spending by $1.34 billion in FY14 and use accounting gimmicks to achieve “savings” only after the bill expires in FY18.
Should H.R. 2642 move forward, new “shallow-loss” crop insurance entitlements could become a permanent part of agriculture policy, with the potential to cost taxpayers billions of dollars more than the status quo. Purported to be a “safety net” for an industry with well above-average incomes already considerably insulated from associated risks, these schemes lock in returns on commodities at record-high prices, hedging against most potential revenue losses due to economic fluctuations. The result could leave taxpayers on the hook for upwards of $7.4 billion if commodities were to return to 15-year price averages. This is yet another example of the agribusiness industry employing taxpayer funds to guarantee profits while continuing to hurt our trading partners and distort markets.
H.R. 2642 fails to deliver the comprehensive, market-based reforms that would allow the agricultural sector to flourish, give consumers a fair shake, and protect taxpayers from excessive spending. Rather, it is a blueprint that would create continued dependency on the federal government and taxpayer funds, push up land and food prices, and hurt the very same small farmers that proponents of the bill claim to be helping. Given our current fiscal challenges and the robust health of the farming sector, especially compared with other areas our economy, H.R. 2642 is a missed opportunity for genuine progress that will afflict taxpayers for years.
Roll call votes on H.R. 2642 will be significantly weighted in our annual Rating of Congress and “NO” votes will be considered the pro- taxpayer position.
If you have any questions, please contact NTU Federal Affairs Manager Nan Swift at (703) 683-5700