FOOD, CONSERVATION, AND ENERGY ACT OF 2008--CONFERENCE REPORT -- (Senate - May 15, 2008)
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Mr. KYL. Madam President, I voted against the Senate-passed version of the farm bill because it lacked the fiscal discipline required of Congress during a time of deficit spending and exponential growth of the Federal Government. Unfortunately, the conference report is just as unacceptable as the Senate-passed version of the farm bill. As a result, I cannot support it.
Congress first approved the Federal farm assistance policies in the early 1930s to help struggling farmers during times of economic hardship due to low commodity prices. Over the last six decades, however, the farm bill has swelled significantly, and now provides extensive subsidies for farmers and agricultural landowners who may not be in true financial need.
The conference report continues this trend, spending approximately $730 billion over 10 years. And, as the administration correctly points out, it increases spending by approximately $20 billion over the current baseline, not $10 billion as claimed by the conferees. The roughly $10 billion difference is achieved through a number of gimmicks, including using timing shifts and funding cliffs.
To make matters worse, at a time when the United States' net farm income is projected to be $92.3 billion this year--51 percent greater than the 10-year average--the conference report would increase subsidy rates, create additional subsidies for a number of crops, and continue direct payments regardless of crop prices. Now is not the time to maintain or increase subsidies; now is the time to reduce or eliminate them.
The conference report would also continue to pay subsidies to millionaire farmers and nonfarmers. It would allow married couples who farm and have an adjusted gross income of $1.5 million to continue to receive subsidies. It would also allow married couples with an adjusted gross income of $1,000,000 who are not full-time farmers to receive subsidies. Farm payments should go only to those who actually need them, not to some of the wealthiest individuals in the country.
Congress could use the farm bill to make substantive reforms and cut federal spending. Instead, it appears that Congress will pass a bloated farm bill that is just another example of a broken and mismanaged Congress. Consequently, I cannot support it and urge my colleagues to also oppose the bill.