NTU urges all Members of Congress to vote “No” on the conference report to H.R. 2642, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013. Despite the lengthy consideration of this legislation, the end-product largely dismisses the opportunity for reform in favor of new entitlements, subsidies, and carve-outs at the expense of taxpayers.
It is highly unlikely that taxpayers will reap any so-called “savings” from the almost $1 trillion spending bill. H.R. 2642 marks a 49 percent increase in cost over its 2008 predecessor and is packed with new crop insurance subsidy programs intended to lock in returns on commodities at record-high prices. These alone have the potential to cost taxpayers billions on top of the bill’s baseline. For example, corn prices have dropped nearly one half from their record highs in 2011 and 2012 when the farm bill was first being written.
In addition to the enormous cost, taxpayers should be outraged at the manner in which conferees sidestepped even the most minimal, commonsense reforms, and instead opted to:
- Recombine the separate agriculture and nutrition titles passed by the House with five and three year schedules, respectively.
- Eliminate means testing that would reduce federal premium support by 15 percent for recipients with adjusted gross incomes of more than $750,000. This was included in the Senate-passed bill and in a House-passed “sense of the House.”
- Maintain carve-outs and corporate subsidies for everything from catfish to Christmas trees.
- Reinstate SNAP overspending. The House-passed nutrition title laid out $40 billion in savings from SNAP, the conference report calls for a meager $9 billion.
Although H.R. 2642 eliminates direct payments and commendably avoids the worst dairy supply management schemes, on balance the package 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. By picking and choosing the worst aspects of the House and Senate-passed bills, somehow the conference created a “Frankenstein’s monster” that is even worse than the bills it started with.
Roll call votes on the conference report to H.R. 2642 will be heavily 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