Washington, DC -- Unless Senators enact real agriculture reform during the floor debate on the Farm Bill Extension Act this week, taxpayers will be forced to reap what Congress sows for another five years: a "cash crop" that benefits a few special interests on the public's penny. That's the message from the 362,000-member National Taxpayers Union, which joined several diverse groups at a Capitol Hill news conference today to lobby for an amended farm bill that would reduce deficits, promote free markets, and limit subsidies.
"The 1996 Farm Bill planted the seeds of reform that reintroduced free markets in America's agricultural policy," NTU Director of Government Affairs Kristina Rasmussen said. "But since then, the political landscape has steadily eroded under a flood of bad legislation. Taxpayers cannot afford to wait another five years for federal farm policy to get back on solid ground."
Though the House rejected the "Fairness in Farm and Food Policy Amendment" when it passed its own $286 billion Farm Bill last summer, the amendment could and should serve as a useful blueprint for alternative reform plans. Rather than continue the cycle of huge payouts to agribusiness, high consumer prices, and taxpayer bailouts, Senators should focus on deficit reduction, tightening income limits for subsidy recipients, risk-management programs to prevent publicly funded bailouts, and free trade over restrictive tariffs.
NTU is a nonpartisan, nonprofit citizen organization founded in 1969 to work for lower taxes and smaller government at all levels. Note: Detailed testimonies, letters, and studies on NTU's farm policy views are available at www.ntu.org.