BY DONNA WESTFALL
CREDIT TO TOM SCHATZ, PRESIDENT, COUNCIL FOR CITIZENS AGAINST GOVERNMENT WASTE
AND REPORTER SHARYL ATKISSON
On January 28, 2014, a letter was sent to the U.S. House of Representatives by Tom Schatz, strongly urging members to oppose H.R. 2642, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013. The letter reads as follows:
“On Wednesday, you will vote on the Agricultural Act of 2014, the conference report for H.R. 2642, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013, more commonly known as the Farm Bill. The bill is a disaster for taxpayers and has the potential to be even more expensive and wasteful than the abysmal 2008 Farm Bill that it is replacing. On behalf of the more than one million members and supporters of the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW), I urge you to oppose the Agricultural Act of 2014.
While the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the conference agreement will save a minuscule $16.6 billion over 10 years (which is not likely to be achieved), that amount pales in comparison to the myriad problems that permeate the bill. Means testing for crop insurance subsidies is not included in the agreement; provisions to repeal the duplicative catfish inspection program disappeared; and caps on payments under the shallow loss program and marketing loan program were substantially increased, all contrary to bipartisan provisions included last year in the House or Senate versions of the Farm Bill. In addition, the conference report retains the market-distorting sugar program without any changes and fails to reduce the size and scope of the corporate-welfare stalwart, the Market Access Program.
While taxpayers dodged a bullet by avoiding the inclusion of the Dairy Market Stabilization Program, the conference agreement created a new dairy product donation program, which was never considered in the House or Senate. The program would require the Department of Agriculture to buy dairy goods when market prices drop below a certain threshold and continue these purchases until market prices resurfaced above the established threshold.
In a reversal of the logical separation of Farm Bill and entitlement programs agreed to in the House last year, the conference report retains both the nutrition and commodity titles combined on the same authorization schedule. In doing so, this Farm Bill will perpetuate the expensive alliance between urban and rural special interests that have pushed through past Farm Bills and continue to permit the process to be a free-for-all farce.
The conference report is a disingenuous blow to serious-minded reformers of anti-competitive agricultural policies and tramples the interests of taxpayers and consumers by retaining the status quo or creating more egregious alternatives. I urge you to oppose the Farm Bill conference report. All votes on the Agricultural Act of 2014 will be among those considered in CCAGW’s 2014 Congressional Ratings.”
Let’s take a few examples:
1. For 8 years, Fluoride Action Network worked strenuously to get the EPA educated about the use of neurotoxic fumigant sulfuryl fluoride, On Tuesday, February 4th, the Senate passed the Farm Bill and our President Obama signed it into law 3 days later. The U.S. will now remain one of only two countries in the world that allows this highly toxic fumigant to be sprayed directly on food, leaving unsafe levels of fluoride residue to be eaten by consumers and putting infants and children at risk of exceeding the EPA’s own reference dose for fluoride.
2. Sugar – Expect the price of sugar to increase. Why? Because cheap imports will not be allowed. The sugar program is a Soviet-style command and control system that keeps the sugar artificially high. It prevents the import of most low cost sugar from around the world. It raises prices for consumers two to three times the world price. It benefits the richest 1% of sugar producers.
3. Spending in the bill creates a new 15 cent fee on every live cut Christmas tree sold to create a board to promoting Christmas trees.
4. $100 million to promote the maple syrup industry.
5. Renew funding for a controversial catfish import inspection office, even though there’s one just like it at the FDA. Critics say the duplication will waste $170 million over the ten years.
That’s all contained within the 1,000 pages of our new Farm Bill. I’m sure there’s more equally good stuff full of surprises that the American public will remain ignorant about. I’ve said it before and will say it again. Government induced inflation. We see it here in this Farm Bill which is now law. If you want to stop inflation, start getting involved and speak out. Start contacting your representatives and make sure they hear your voice. It’s a 1 to 2 minute phone call. If they don’t listen; vote them out.