Statement by Acting Secretary Chuck Conner on the Senate-Passed Farm Bill
December 14, 2007
"Farmers and ranchers face enormous uncertainties and deserve a safety net, and I am a firm believer in federal support of agriculture. Yet, the farm bill just passed by the Senate fails to strengthen the safety net and increases taxes to generate $15 billion in revenue used to grow the size and scope of government. The bill further increases price supports and continues to send farm subsidies to people who are among the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans. The Senate-passed farm bill does not represent fiscal stewardship and lacks farm program reform.
"This legislation is fundamentally flawed. Unless the House and Senate can come together and craft a measure that contains real reform, we are no closer to a good farm bill than we were before today's passage.
"Farmers need a stable safety net that helps in years they need it most," said Conner. "And farmers deserve a farm bill that is free of budget smoke and mirrors and tax increases. The measure passed today has $22 billion in unfunded commitments and budget gimmicks, and includes $15 billion in new taxes- the first time a farm bill has relied on tax increases since 1933.
"The House and Senate need to address the concerns that matter to farmers the most. We have heard from farmers all across America in over 50 Farm Bill Forums since 2005, and most have made it clear that there must be an end to income subsidy payments for the richest people in the country. Farmers understand that a program that takes tax dollars from middle income America and transfers those dollars to the nation's wealthiest few is bad policy, and damages the credibility and the purpose of farm programs.
"As the House and Senate work to come to a consensus on their different bills, it is imperative that substantial changes are made to this legislation. I am eager to work with Congress on ways to make this a good farm bill that benefits our rural communities and America's farmers."