NTU urges all Senators to vote “NO” on S. 954, the Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2013, or Farm Bill.
May 20, 2013
NTU urges all Senators to vote “NO” on S. 954, the Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2013, or Farm Bill. As consideration begins, Senators should be aware that although there have been some positive reforms such as the elimination of direct payments, the legislation would be a horrible deal for taxpayers.
Among the biggest handouts to a sector with well-above-average incomes is the new “Shallow Loss” Program. Though it purports to be a safety net, this scheme would lock in returns on commodities at record-high prices. According to the USDA, farms are already well-insulated against the risks associated with their industry. Thus, it is hard to see why taxpayers should be 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 lock in guaranteed profits while continuing to hurt our trading partners and distorting markets.
Unfortunately, the new Shallow Loss Program is but one troubling part of the Farm Bill’s massive $955 billion, nine-year price tag. Even as Washington struggles to address our growing $17 trillion debt, S. 954 would increase spending by $18 billion. Three-quarters of the legislation’s funding is devoted to social welfare initiatives like the Supplemental Nutrition Program (SNAP), which duplicates other USDA efforts and is itself in serious need of real reform. Programs like the Dairy Market Stabilization Program would resurrect Soviet-era price-control policies that would increase costs for consumers and hurt dairy producers. The Market Access, Catfish Inspection, and Sugar programs should have been on the chopping block long ago, yet persist despite wasting taxpayer dollars and hurting job growth. The bill is also packed with giveaways to the green energy and ethanol industries, with $193 million for the Biomass Crop Assistance Program and another $241 million for the Rural Energy for America Program.
Taken as a whole, this legislation is far from the comprehensive, market-based reforms that would allow the agricultural sector to flourish, give consumers a fair shake, and protect taxpayers from excessive spending. Instead, it is a blueprint that creates continued dependency on the federal government and taxpayer funds, pushes up land and food prices, and hurts the very same small farmers that proponents of the bill claim to be helping.
Roll call votes on S. 954 will be significantly weighted in our annual Rating of Congress and a “NO” vote will be considered the pro-taxpayer position.
If you have any questions, please contact NTU Federal Affairs Manager Nan Swift at (703) 683-5700