NTU urges all Representatives to vote "No" on H.R. 1947, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013
June 18, 2013
NTU urges all Representatives to vote “No” on H.R. 1947, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013. Despite some positive reforms such as the elimination of direct payments, the “Farm Bill” would be a horrible deal for taxpayers.
Among the biggest handouts to a sector with well-above-average incomes are three new, unnecessary “shallow loss” crop insurance programs. Purported to be a “safety net,” these schemes lock in returns on commodities at record-high prices, hedging against most potential revenue losses due to economic fluctuations. 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 distort markets.
Representatives should be skeptical about any claims that H.R. 1947 would save taxpayers money. Weighing in at a mind-boggling $940 billion over nine years, the bill is projected to spend 60 percent more than the 2008 Farm Bill. Potential savings from cuts to SNAP and the elimination of direct payments will likely be swallowed up by the high costs of new agriculture entitlements and other outlays. Previous farm bills have ultimately cost hundreds of billions of dollars more than initially anticipated and taxpayers should expect no different from H.R. 1947.
Other troubling aspects of the legislation include the fact that more than three-quarters of its funding is devoted to social welfare initiatives like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, 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, Rural Broadband, and Sugar programs should have been on the chopping block long ago, yet persist despite wasting taxpayer dollars and hurting job growth.
Taken as a whole, this legislation 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. Instead, 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.
Roll call votes on H.R. 1947 will be significantly weighted in our annual Rating of Congress and a “NO” vote will be considered the pro-taxpayer position.