STATEMENT BY SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE ED SCHAFER ON CONGRESS' ANNOUNCEMENT OF A NEW FARM BILL
WASHINGTON, May 8, 2008- In January 2007, the President put forward a farm bill proposal that represents fiscal responsibility, would improve the safety-net for farmers and move current programs toward market oriented policies. Our proposals were warranted and timely considering that 2008 net farm income is forecast to be $92 billion - 51 percent above its 10 year average.
"Today, the United States House and Senate announced the completion of a farm bill that unfortunately fails to include much needed reform and increases spending by nearly $20 billion. At a time of record farm income, Congress decided to further increase farm subsidy rates, qualify more people for taxpayer support, and move programs toward more government control. We should not remove farm commodities from market forces and make them dependent upon government support programs.
In addition, Congress decided to include a new permanent disaster program. This program represents a return to outdated farm policy and questions the government's investment in crop insurance which was designed to protect farmers against low commodity prices and crop failures. This action will discredit farm programs and jeopardize public support for future farm bills.
Americans appreciate our farmers and ranchers and understand the uncertainties and risks that farming presents. However, they do not understand why their taxes should be used to provide payments to individuals with adjusted gross incomes of $500,000 and higher, some of the wealthiest people in America.
We are also concerned about a lengthy list of extraneous provisions that are not related to farm programs and have no place in this legislation.
For a year and a half, the Administration has been consistently clear that Congress needs to move forward with a good farm bill that the President can sign. They have failed to do so. This legislation lacks meaningful farm program reform and expands the size and scope of government. I have visited face to face with our President and he was direct and plain. The President will veto this bill."