As the Senate considers the provisions of S. 954, the Farm Bill, NTU urges all Senators to vote “YES” on the following amendments. Though these amendments would improve the legislation by saving taxpayers money and reducing the heavy hand of government, Senators are reminded that NTU continues to strongly oppose the underlying bill.
“YES” votes on the following amendments will be considered the pro-taxpayer position:
#955: McCain-Flake: REAP Blender Pump Prohibition: This amendment would protect taxpayers from being forced to pay for ethanol pumps and storage facilities under the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). Taxpayer funds shouldn’t be used to underwrite a mature industry that drives up the costs of gasoline and food.
#961: Inhofe: RFS Opt-Out: This amendment would permit states to opt out of the broken Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and would reduce the national mandate by a prorated amount, giving states the opportunity to spare consumers from a low-energy-content fuel source.
#967: Corker-Manchin: Foreign Fuels Reduction Act: This amendment would require the EPA to reduce, in pro rata, the total volume of renewable fuels and advanced biofuels under the RFS when the cellulosic biofuels mandate has been revised; thereby easing the negative effects of increased corn ethanol production required to fill the gap and mitigating the impact of the pending “blend wall.”
#1016: Lee: Repeal of Biomass Crop Assistance Program: This amendment would repeal the $193 million taxpayer giveaway to the ethanol industry – government shouldn’t be picking winners and losers in the marketplace.
#1074: Vitter-Inhofe-Wicker: No E15: This amendment would block EPA waivers, which currently permit the use of E15 blends of gasoline to be used in many cars and trucks despite the damage associated with blends higher than 10 percent and the large economic costs imposed by corn ethanol.
#1084: Cruz & #1060: Barrasso-Toomey: Repeal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS): Both amendments would fully repeal the broken RFS mandate. By diverting corn from food stocks to fuel tanks, the RFS has increased energy and fuel costs for consumers, distorted the commodities and energy markets, damaged engines, and exacerbated conditions among the world’s poorest without achieving any significant environmental benefit.
#1005: Coburn: Consolidation of Duplicative Nutrition Programs: This amendment would direct savings from reducing administrative waste within nutrition programs, to those food assistance initiatives demonstrated to be the most effective. Only 7 of 18 such programs have proven to be successful in meeting their goals, despite billions of taxpayer dollars poured into nutrition policies. Streamlining programs and redirecting resources toward efforts that have demonstrated results would help fight rising food insecurity and use taxpayer funds more responsibly.
#1059: Vitter: Ban SNAP Recruitment, #1002: Coburn: SNAP Promotion Limitation, #946: Sessions: Termination of Partnership for Nutrition Assistance Initiative: These amendments would ban, repeal, or limit the use of taxpayer dollars to recruit SNAP participants. When faced with tough spending choices, taxpayer funds shouldn’t be wasted on gimmicks such as games, soap operas, and other giveaways.
#1107: Lee & #989 Thune: SNAP Work Requirements: Though they employ different mechanisms – Amendment #1107 would apply TANF work requirements to SNAP benefits and #989 would restrict Able-Bodied Adults Without Dependents waivers – both amendments would apply common-sense accountability measures to the growing nutrition program. Firm work requirements have been successful at encouraging assistance recipients to be more self-reliant, expediting the return of many to the workforce, and removing counterproductive incentives that discourage seeking full-time employment.
Agriculture Policy Reform
#956: McCain-Shaheen: Catfish Inspection Repeal: This amendment would eliminate a duplicative new USDA office to inspect catfish, which are already inspected by the FDA. The new office would cost at least $30 million to create ($20 million has already been spent without inspecting a single fish) and $14 million a year to maintain. The GAO has targeted the USDA Catfish Inspection program as wasteful and unnecessary no fewer than four times.
#1003: Coburn: Prohibits Farm Subsidies for Tax Delinquents: This amendment would prohibit tax evaders from receiving any form of federal assistance or subsidy as enumerated under the Farm bill, with the exception of SNAP benefits. Taxpayer funds should not be available to those who have themselves failed to pay their taxes.
#1004: Coburn: No Conservation Payments to Millionaires: This amendment would prohibit the USDA from waiving income caps that exempt conservation program participants with an AGI of $1 million or more from payment limit rules. With a skyrocketing national debt and struggling economy, taxpayers shouldn’t be forced to incentivize the wealthy to make good conservation choices. This amendment would save roughly $225 million over five years.
#1007: Coburn-McCain: Market Access Program (MAP) Reform: This amendment would reduce funding for MAP by 20 percent (down from its current $200 million a year). MAP is used to subsidize overseas advertising of private companies and trade associations like Welch’s, Sunkist, and Blue Diamond. The amendment would also prohibit funds from subsidizing some of the most egregious examples of waste such as promoting cat or dog food, wine tastings, animal spa products, and reality television shows.
#1017: Lee: Repeal of Conservation Stewardship and Reserve Programs: This amendment would repeal two conservation programs that cost taxpayers billions of dollars annually. Rather than directly paying landowners to not develop land, this amendment would tie federal crop insurance subsidies to conservation compliance, which would be a less costly means of achieving conservation goals. Additionally, it would eliminate target prices, corn ethanol mandates, and other government machinations that distort markets and incentivize planting in otherwise unsuitable land.
#1040 & #1041: Enzi: Eliminate Maple Syrup Subsidies: This pair of amendments would inject the maple syrup industry with some free-market reform and get government out of that sticky business by eliminating the maple syrup tariff-rate quotas as well as the Acer Access and Development program for maple syrup promotion and research. This is a good example of how Washington shouldn’t be providing protective carve-outs for any industry.
#1072: Flake: Study to Recommend Offsets for Subsidies to Brazilian Cotton Farmers: This amendment would require the USDA to report to Congress, within 90 days, recommendations for $147.3 million in annual savings to offset the annual payment to the Brazilian Cotton Institute. Short of repealing cotton subsidies altogether, the USDA should be responsible for finding the savings necessary to stave off WTO sanctions if the agency is intent on perpetuating its damaging policy of generously subsidizing less than 20,000 domestic cotton planters to the tune of $3 billion a year.
#1083: Cruz: Voluntary Participation in USDA “Checkoff” Programs: Best described as “right to work” for small businesses and farmers, this amendment would make participation in mandatory “check-off” programs voluntary. Currently, these programs, which raise $905 million annually, operate with little oversight, waste taxpayer dollars, mistreat whistleblowers, force individuals to support programs that might not be in their best interests, and subsidize products of billion-dollar companies like McDonald’s and Domino’s.
#1091: McCain & #1066: Lee: Price Support Authority and Permanent Suspension: These two amendments would help to prevent the manufactured “crisis” under which Congress considers farm bills in order to prevent federal agriculture policy from reverting to the damaging and outdated supply-control and price supports enshrined in the “permanent law” of the 1938 and 1949 Acts. Widely reviled on both sides of the aisle, repealing that permanent law once and for all would provide a clean slate for moving forward with substantive, long-term reforms.
#1110: McCain: Repeal of Sugar Program: This amendment would repeal the market distorting Sugar Program that costs U.S. consumers and businesses approximately $3.5 billion and 20,000 jobs each year via a complex web of price support levels, domestic supply restrictions, and import quotas that artificially inflate the price of sugar. At the same time, Washington should be working through all channels to encourage other nations to end subsidization of their sugar industries.
#1123: Coburn: Reform Rural Utilities Service: This amendment would require the Rural Utilities Service to ensure that Rural Broadband Programs funds are used to provide access in rural areas that do not already have broadband access. This, to prevent what has happened in the past, when 90 percent of funds went to areas that already had access or were within 30 miles of large cities and other resources.
Taxes and Regulations
#1020: Lee: REINS Act: This amendment would implement the Regulations from the Executive In Need of Scrutiny or REINS Act, increasing legislative control and accountability over federal regulatory policy by requiring Congress to affirmatively approve any rule that may result in an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more.
#1064: Paul & #1021 Lee: Estate and Gift Tax Reform: Senator Paul’s Amendment #1064 is a straight repeal of the estate and gift taxes; Senator Lee’s Amendment #1021 is a full and permanent repeal of the estate tax and a major reduction and overhaul of the gift tax. Also called the “death tax,” the estate tax places an enormous burden on job creators and creates serious economic disruption when farmers and family-owned small businesses don’t have the liquid assets to foot the bill.
At a time of record-high farm profits and persistent federal deficits, Senators should pursue an all-of-the-above approach to finding savings and not waste more taxpayer dollars on special-interest carve-outs. Given our nation’s fiscal challenges, NTU urges Senators to support these common-sense amendments that would help pare back the costly and unnecessary subsidies agribusiness currently enjoys.
Roll call votes on the above amendments to S. 954 will be included in our annual Rating of Congress.If you have any questions, please contact NTU Federal Affairs Manager Nan Swift at (703) 683-5700******************************