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Top Ten Reasons to Reject a "Farm Only" Farm Bill

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The House should overwhelmingly reject the terrible “farm-only” farm bill being considered this morning. It’s bad enough that the bill fails to renew programs that help feed more than 47 million Americans, including millions of children, veterans and senior citizens. Here are ten more reasons to reject this bill. It:

  1. Increases Crop Insurance Subsidies – At a time of record farm income and record federal deficits, the House bill increases unlimited crop insurance subsidies by more than $9 billion and creates special insurance subsidies for both cotton and peanut farmers.
  1. Raises Price Guarantees – The bill increases price guarantees for major crops to lock in the current record prices and potentially puts taxpayers on the hook for billions of dollars in new outlays if prices fall. And it includes special deals for growers of sushi rice.
  1. Extends Direct Payments for Cotton Farmers – The House bill extends for two more years widely discredited direct payments for cotton farmers at a cost of nearly $1 billion.
  1. Makes New Farm Subsidies “Permanent” – The bill would make these expanded subsidies – which would be the most costly farm subsidies in history – “permanent” law, even as it allows conservation and other critical programs to expire in 2018.
  1. Excludes Crop Insurance Reforms – The bill fails to include common sense reforms that would subject crop insurance subsidies to payment limits, means tests or disclosure requirements.
  1. Fails to Include Conservation Compliance – It also fails to include a provision – which is in the Senate’s farm bill – that requires farmers who receive insurance subsidies to adopt basic conservation practices.
  1. No Opportunity for Debate – House leaders are refusing to consider floor amendments to add these and other reforms, including reasonable limits on who can get crop insurance subsidies and the amount of subsidies that farm businesses can receive.
  1. Blocks State Safety Standards – The House bill also includes a provision that would prohibit states from setting their own farm and food standards, including provisions designed to keep food safe and promote animal welfare.
  1. Cut Conservation Programs – The House bill needlessly cuts $5 billion from programs designed to reward farmers and ranchers who protect drinking water supplies or provide habitat for wildlife. These cuts come on top of recent cuts by the Appropriations Committee and as a result of the deficit-cutting “sequestration.”
  1. Weakens Environmental Protections – The bill guts common-sense rules that protect water and wildlife from contamination by agricultural pesticides. What’s more, the bill eviscerates protections against environmental damage caused by logging by short-circuiting environmental reviews and limiting public involvement in “critical areas.”