Eleven of the most prominent organizations in the conservative movement have signed on to a letter of opposition to the House Farm Bill Draft. These groups include Heritage Action for America, FreedomWorks, and Americans for Prosperity. The House version of the farm bill bears an unfortunate resemblance to the Senate version of the Farm Bill. The opposition letter reads in part:
On behalf of the millions of members represented by our organizations, we write to express concerns with, and opposition to the draft Farm Bill (Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act or FARRM) released by the House Agriculture Committee. With the booming farm economy and near record commodity prices, now is the time to rein in the wasteful agriculture subsidy programs of the past. Instead, the draft bill creates new entitlement programs, reinforces wasteful crop insurance subsidies, retains and expands market distorting counter-cyclical target prices, and fails to reform and reduce Washington’s outsized and outdated role in American agriculture.
Farm businesses are a testament to the skill, ingenuity, and persistence of Americans. While many sectors continue to feel the effects of the recession, American agriculture is one of the few bright spots in the economy. Net farm income is at $98 billion, nearly doubling between 2001 and 2011. Farm business exports totaled nearly $140 billion, exceeding imports of agricultural products by more than $37 billion. And, it’s estimated that one out of every 12 jobs is connected to agriculture.
Rather than reform, as the bill’s title implies, the Committee’s draft Farm Bill reinforces the heavy federal and taxpayer role in the farm economy. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that the bill would save $35 billion over ten years compared to the ten-year baseline of $992 billion. The Committee shaved off a 3.6 percent whisker of spending from a bill that is 60 percent larger than the last Farm Bill.
The simple fact is that if the Committee only eliminated the egregious direct payment program and did nothing else, the bill would save $45 billion, $10 billion more than the current estimated savings.
The previous Farm Bill is set to expire on September 30th. Between now and then, we can expect special interests to fight for more subsidies and ultimately to contribute to a final bill that preserves the big government status quo in agriculture policy.
This post was authored by Townhall.com editorial intern, Kyle Bonnell.