The White House, President George W. Bush Click to print this document

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
May 9, 2008

Fact Sheet: Congress' Farm Bill Is Bad for American Taxpayers
Congress Should Propose Real Reform, As President Bush Did, Or Extend Current Law For At Least One Year

Today, Congressional negotiators announced the completion of a farm bill that fails to include much-needed farm program reforms proposed by President Bush and increases spending by nearly $20 billion. At a time of record farm income, Congress chose to further increase farm subsidy rates, require the American taxpayers to subsidize the incomes of married farmers already earning up to $1.5 million per year, and expand government control over farm programs. This bill also adds a number of provisions never considered by the full Congress such as numerous trade-related provisions and expansion of the Davis-Bacon Act. Congress should reconsider increasing by $20 billion the current spending level of $596 billion over 10 years.

This Farm Bill Asks American Taxpayers To Support Still Higher Subsidies During A Time Of Record Farm Income

The United States' booming farm economy makes it impossible to justify further increasing subsidy rates and establishing additional subsidies for some crops. With rising food prices and farm income at an all-time high, Congress should not be looking to increase the burden on taxpayers by forcing them to further subsidize the part of our economy that is setting records.

The actual increase in spending under the proposed farm bill is nearly $20 billion, not the $10 billion that Congress is claiming. The additional spending not being acknowledged by Congress includes:

Congress Should Not Jeopardize America's Support For The Farm Bill By Increasing Subsidies Without Real Reform

The lack of reform in this bill puts future farm bills in jeopardy by eroding overall support for farm programs.

In Addition To Lacking Reform, The Bill Would Also Roll Back Previous Progress

Under current law, crop subsidies kick in only when the price drops below a certain level, but the conferees want to remove that limitation and allow unprecedented and uncapped subsidies at any price. Subsidies would kick in if the price lowers as little as 10 percent below the two-year average, which could result in billions of dollars of additional subsidies.

The bill also restricts international emergency food aid, putting millions of people at risk and undermining our ability to save lives. This provision would alter current law by restricting the ability to redirect food aid dollars for emergency use, limiting the government's ability to respond to emergencies.

The bill walks away from conservation. The Administration is disappointed that the Conservation Title is nearly $4 billion less than the Administration’s proposal. It reduces enrollment in Wetlands Reserve Program WRP by thousands of acres, falling short of the President's goal of 250,000 acres enrolled per year. The bill dismantles the sodsaver proposal that would protect native grasslands from being cultivated to capture subsidies.

The Administration Worked Continually With Congress In An Effort To Develop A Better Farm Bill

More than a year ago, President Bush put forth a reform-minded, fiscally responsible farm bill proposal that provides a strong safety net and funds emerging priorities. It includes:

Unfortunately, conferees wrote a bill that fails to implement any meaningful reform, exceeds the spending baseline by nearly $20 billion, and uses budget gimmicks to pay for much of this increased spending. Moreover, conferees inserted unrelated trade provisions outside the scope of the farm bill.

The Administration also agreed in principle to increased spending as long as acceptable offsets are provided, and even submitted to Congress a list of acceptable spending offsets. Unfortunately, Congress exceeded an acceptable increase and failed to adequately offset it.

The Administration made clear that any agreement to spend $10 billion or more on farm programs must include real program reform. Instead, the Congress added new crops to subsidy mechanisms, increased crop subsidy levels, and included nearly $20 billion in additional spending, without significant reform.

Congress should extend the current farm bill for a least one year. President Bush last week made clear that this is not the time to ask American families who are already paying more in the check-out line to pay more in subsidies to support a record-setting farm economy.

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