Why is Sonny Perdue Lobbying for a Farm Bill That Snubs President Trump?

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

The House farm bill reflects a nearly complete repudiation of President Trump’s most recent budget request. So why is Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue lobbying the House to pass it?

As we previously documented, the House farm bill would distort markets and invite trade disputes, contradicting the farm bill principles Perdue laid out.

But that’s not all. The House bill includes only two of the president’s 12 proposals to reduce spending – proposals that would have saved taxpayers $250 billion over 10 years.

Here are six ways the bill snubs President Trump’s February budget request.

  1. No Farmer Work Requirements. The president proposed to limit farm subsidies to one person per farm, ending a system that allows relatives and partners who do not live or work on the farm to receive subsidies. Instead, the House bill expands loopholes to make cousins, nieces and nephews eligible for subsidies.
  2. No Farmer Means Testing. The president proposed to make farm couples with more than $1 million in adjusted gross income ineligible for farm subsidies – down from the current cutoff of $1.8 million. Instead, the House bill eliminates the existing means test for some corporate farms.
  3. No Premium Subsidy Reductions. The president proposed to reduce, from 62 percent to 48 percent, the share of crop insurance premium subsidies paid by taxpayers. He also wanted to make sure cotton farmers receive no more than other farmers. No such provision was included in the House bill.
  4. No Underwriting Gain Reduction. The president proposed to reduce the rate of return guaranteed to crop insurance companies, saving $3 billion. No such provision was included.
  5. Livestock Forage Program Retained. The president proposed to eliminate this program, which would save $4.5 billion. No such provision was included.
  6. Users Fees Rejected. The president proposed new user fees for USDA services that benefit industry. No provision was included.

The president’s budget also proposed to eliminate other so-called low-priority programs. But the House bill instead creates new programs, including a new program for certain kinds of cotton farmers. In fact, the House bill actually increases spending by $3.2 billion between 2019 and 2023.

So, if the House farm bill snubs President Trump’s budget request and violates Secretary Perdue’s farm policy principles, why is the secretary lobbying the House to pass the bill? Could one reason be that Perdue himself has received nearly $300,000 in farm subsidies?


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