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Rep. Kind: Don't Squander this Momentous Opportunity for Reform

February 14, 2008
Press Release

Will Work with Ways & Means Colleagues to Prevent New Taxes for Farm Programs

Washington, D.C. –– U.S. Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI) today made the following statement in response to Chairman Peterson’s proposed Farm Bill Conference Report:

“I welcome the efforts of Chairman Peterson and Ranking Member Goodlatte to negotiate a Farm Bill that can be signed into law. The draft they have come up with is a good start, but there is still much work to be done to make this farm bill work for family farmers and for taxpayers.

“I fear we will squander this momentous opportunity for reform. Farmers are doing better than they ever have, and producers no longer need to be tied to our outdated system of subsidies. In fact, the consolidation of wealth among America’s largest producers has illustrated the great inequities of our broken support system.

“While the proposal rolls back some of the most trade-distorting policies and makes the first small steps toward taking subsidies away from millionaires, it must go further. A substantive means test and real payment limits are still needed. The proposal’s budget gimmick that phases out direct payments in the ninth year, only to see them reappear again in the tenth, is a sham. This proposal continues to defend the most indefensible aspect of farm subsidies – guaranteed handouts to wealthy producers regardless of golden market conditions.

“Greater reform is also necessary to protect vital priorities in other areas of the bill, particularly nutrition programs that under this proposal would shortchange programs for the needy by $3 billion. Critical conservation programs would also receive $1 billion less over five years. This is unjustifiable when it would continue to dole out more than $5 billion a year in direct payments to mostly wealthy farmers.

“The bottom line is: this proposal is still $6 billion over budget. If they want a farm bill this year, additional reforms must be made to meet the President’s criteria for approval. I plan to work with my colleagues on the Ways and Means Committee to push for a resolution that does not involve any new tax offsets for farm programs. Raising taxes to fund needless giveaways to farmers is wasteful. There is plenty of room in the farm bill baseline to pay for all of our priorities, and in this economic climate, allowing the Agriculture Committee to unnecessarily raise taxes is not in the best interest of anyone, especially taxpayers.”