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Three Foxx Amendments Improve 2013 Farm Bill

Imperfect Legislation is a Step in the Right Direction Toward Broader Conservative Reform Efforts

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Washington, D.C., July 11, 2013 | Ericka Perryman (202-225-2071) | comments
The 2013 Farm Bill is certainly imperfect, but with the inclusion of three taxpayer-centric amendments I authored, overall cost savings and long-overdue reforms to ‘Soviet-style’ milk subsidy programs, it is a definite improvement from the untenable status quo. This legislation finally lays the groundwork to repeal the 1949 law that has been the problematic backstop of American agriculture policy for more than sixty years. And farmers as well as taxpayers will benefit from a modernized bill that cuts spending roughly $20 billion dollars. This legislation is just one step in the right direction, not the end of conservative reform efforts to eliminate wasteful crop subsidies and restore integrity to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
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Three amendments by Congresswoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC), previously adopted by the House of Representatives, were included in the 2013 Farm Bill, the Federal Agriculture Reform & Risk Management Act (H.R. 2642), which passed today with Foxx’s support.

“The 2013 Farm Bill is certainly imperfect, but with the inclusion of three taxpayer-centric amendments I authored, overall cost savings and long-overdue reforms to ‘Soviet-style’ milk subsidy programs, it is a definite improvement from the untenable status quo.

“This legislation finally lays the groundwork to repeal the 1949 law that has been the problematic backstop of American agriculture policy for more than sixty years. And farmers as well as taxpayers will benefit from a modernized bill that cuts spending roughly $20 billion dollars.

“This legislation is just one step in the right direction, not the end of conservative reform efforts to eliminate wasteful crop subsidies and restore integrity to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.”

The 2013 Farm Bill reauthorization saves nearly $20 billion, eliminates or consolidates more than 100 duplicative or unnecessary federal programs, ends the indefensible direct payment system to ensure taxpayers are not subsidizing those who do not farm, and limits risk management options to only those times when farmers suffer significant loss.

Information on Foxx’s three amendments to the 2013 Federal Agriculture Reform & Risk Management Act and quotes from Foxx on each are below:

Spending Safeguard Amendment

Foxx on the Spending Safeguard Amendment:
“Taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay the difference whenever Congress gets its cost projections wrong, something that has been known to happen on numerous occasions. Under current law, if actual costs for the Farm Risk Management Election Program exceed Congressional Budget Office estimates, taxpayers will have to pay the full bill regardless. My Spending Safeguard Amendment that passed with bipartisan support caps mandatory spending right around CBO projection levels and thus puts a finite number on an otherwise infinite taxpayer liability.”

Background and Details:
The Foxx Spending Safeguard Amendment will cap spending on the Farm Risk Management Election program at 110% of CBO-predicted levels for the first five (5) years in which payments are disbursed (FY 2016 – 2020). In the event government’s cost projections prove completely wrong, this amendment will ensure taxpayers are not forced to automatically pay the difference between Washington’s mistake and reality.

H.R. 2642, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management (FARRM) Act of 2013, is slated to cost taxpayers $940 billion over 10 years. The bill repeals the indefensible direct payments system, but replaces it with the “Farm Risk Management Election” program. This program alone is predicted to cost $23.37 billion over 10 years, but could cost more…much more. The 2008 Farm Bill cost taxpayers 51% more than its drafters predicted.

In the case of the Farm Risk Management Election Program, cost estimates are based on high target prices which exceed historical averages. If these target prices fall and the program’s costs increase beyond projections as a result, taxpayers will be forced to pay the difference.

This amendment will:
  • Safeguard taxpayers if this program ends up costing significantly more than advertised;
  • Prevent automatic, unappropriated spending from unexpectedly skyrocketing; and 
  • Set a striking new precedent for fiscal responsibility.
Sunset Discretionary Programs Amendment

Foxx on the Sunset Discretionary Programs Amendment:
“President Ronald Reagan once famously commented on the seeming eternal nature of some federal government programs. Farm Bills to date have been rife with indefinitely authorized discretionary programs which don’t have to prove their mettle to continue drawing from the taxpayer dole. That is a travesty, and my Sunset Discretionary Programs Amendment will require the automatic expiration of all discretionary programs in the Farm Bill after five years unless Congress votes specifically to allow a program to continue.”

Background and Details:
The Sunset Discretionary Programs Amendment will automatically end discretionary programs in the 2013 Farm Bill upon expiration of the bill’s 5-year authorization period. Many programs authorized by the Farm Bill are wasteful, duplicative and ineffective, but are authorized indefinitely. This amendment will require Congress to justify a program’s continued existence and funding through regular reauthorization efforts.

As our national debt approaches $17 trillion, Congress simply cannot afford to add to the number of costly federal programs on auto-pilot.

This common-sense amendment will:
  • Prevent the covert continuance of wasteful, ineffective, and duplicative programs;
  • Send a strong message to stakeholders, lobbyists and special interests that discretionary federal programs have an expiration date.
  • Prompt Congress and the public to thoughtfully reexamine costly programs when the Farm Bill’s authorization expires; and
  • Require members of Congress to mount a strong defense for the continuation of any expired discretionary program at the end of the Farm Bill’s authorization period.
This amendment will NOT:
  • Eliminate or undermine the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP); or
  • Apply to the farm bill’s mandatory spending provisions.
Crop Insurance Transparency Amendment

Foxx on the Crop Insurance Transparency Amendment:
“It shouldn’t take a FOIA request for the American people to figure out whether their leaders are personally benefiting from government farm subsidies. The Crop Insurance Transparency Amendment requires that information disclosing high-powered beneficiaries of taxpayer-funded subsidies be made available to the public without requiring a formal Freedom of Information Act request. Democrats and Republicans should all agree that requiring such transparency is commonsense.”

Background and Details:
The Crop Insurance Transparency Amendment, cosponsored by Congressman Keith Ellison (D-MN), will require the government to disclose the names of key persons or entities receiving federal crop insurance subsidies. Specifically, disclosure would be required for:
  1. Members of Congress and their immediate families;
  2. Cabinet Secretaries and their immediate families, and
  3. Entities in which any of the preceding parties are majority shareholders.
This information is already recorded, but members of the public have to petition the government under the Freedom of Information Act to acquire the data. It shouldn’t take a FOIA request for the American people to figure out whether their leaders are receiving government farm subsidies. This bipartisan amendment makes this information available to the public without a FOIA request.

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