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Public Statements

Agriculture, Rural Develoopment, Food and drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2005

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC


AGRICULTURE, RURAL DEVELOPMENT, FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION, AND RELATED AGENCIES APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2005 -- (House of Representatives - July 13, 2004)

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to House Resolution 710 and rule XVIII, the Chair declares the House in the Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union for the further consideration of the bill, H.R. 4766.

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Mr. CHABOT. Mr. Chairman, I offer an amendment.

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Mr. CHABOT. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Chairman, each year, through the Market Access Program, known as MAP, Congress gives tens of millions of dollars away to industry groups to advertise their products in other countries. It is called the Market Access Program because it sounds better than the corporate welfare program. But, Mr. Chairman, it is, in actuality, one in the same.

This year, the Department of Agriculture is doling out $125 million of the American taxpayers' money to various groups to advertise their wares overseas. Well over $1 billion has been given away in the name of market access or market promotion over the years; this amid record budget deficits and a still-recovering economy.

So who is getting money from MAP, and how much are they getting? The U.S. Meat Export Federation is getting $10.6 million just this year. Pistachio, prune, papaya, pear, pet food, and popcorn groups are all getting handouts, $5.9 million. As is the Ginseng Board of Wisconsin, a little over $5,000. And the National Watermelon Promotion Board, $133,952.

Now, these groups should advertise. I think it is good they are advertising their products overseas. And if they sell them, that helps in this country. But it ought to be done with their money and not with the taxpayers' money.

Supporters, of course, will claim this so-called business and government partnership creates jobs. However, studies by the GAO indicate that this program has no discernible effect on U.S. agricultural exports. Further, it gives money to companies that would undertake this advertising without this unwarranted government subsidy.

Let me give one example of the kind of outrage that this program generates. While I have used this illustration before in past years when we have tried to get rid of this program, unsuccessfully I might add, unfortunately, I would like to use it again. I think it really does bear repeating.

Many people probably remember the popular "Heard It Through the Grapevine" raisin commercial, sponsored by the
California Raisin Board. Well, based on the success of the commercial, MAP decided it would be a good idea to use that commercial to attempt to boost raisin sales in Japan and put $3 million into this project. Unfortunately, however, the ads, first of all, were in English, leaving many Japanese unaware that the dancing characters were raisins. Most thought they were potatoes or chocolate. In addition, many Japanese children were afraid of these wrinkled misshapen figures. They were actually frightened by these things on TV.

If this were not such a colossal waste of taxpayer hard-earned money, it would be funny. However this is the kind of wasteful spending that inevitably occurs when we give someone the ability to spend someone else's money. That is what this program does. Again, I am all for these groups advertising their products and selling them overseas; but they should do it with their money, not with taxpayer money.

Mr. Chairman, this is a simple, straightforward amendment. It would simply stop the Department of Agriculture from funding the MAP program. It would save the taxpayers' millions of dollars, as much as $200 million annually by 2006.

Back in 1996, we reformed welfare for the poor. I think it is about time that we reformed or, in this case, got rid of welfare for the wealthy. I urge my fellow Members of Congress to join me and also the gentleman from California (Mr. Royce) and many others, including the National Taxpayers Union, Citizens Against Government Waste, Taxpayers for Common Sense, and U.S. PIRG, in casting a vote for the overburdened American taxpayer. I strongly urge support of this amendment.

Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. CHABOT. Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. CHABOT. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself 30 seconds.

I just would like to respond with one thing. We had a letter here which I thought was by the National Taxpayers Union which said a lot of interesting things, but one thing I would like to read from it says:

"The more U.S. taxpayers are forced to support unnecessary and economically dubious programs such as the MAP, the less credibility our Nation has on adhering to free trade principles."

I think even though the Europeans do it does not necessarily mean that that is right. Oftentimes, that means it is not the policy to follow. I think the United States should set an example. I think this program should be defunded.

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Mr. CHABOT. Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. CHABOT. Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.

Mr. BONILLA. Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.

Mr. CHABOT. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Chairman, I would just conclude by making a couple of points. Although supporters of the program some years ago changed the name, it was MPP, the Market Promotion Program, to MAP, the Market Access Program, and made some other cosmetic adjustments due to pressure from taxpayer watchdog groups, the basic concept and the cost to the taxpayers remain basically the same. The government is dipping into the pockets of hard-working individuals and promoting private corporate entities. Well over $1 billion has been spent on this program over the last number of years, and studies by the GAO indicate that the MAP program has no discernible effect on U.S. agricultural exports. Further, it basically gives money to companies that would undertake this advertising without the government doing it.

I want to again emphasize I think it is good that these companies advertise and that they sell overseas, but rather than doing it with taxpayer dollars they ought to do it with their own dollars.

Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.

The CHAIRMAN. The question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman from Ohio (Mr. Chabot).

The question was taken; and the Chairman announced that the noes appeared to have it.

Mr. CHABOT. Mr. Chairman, I demand a recorded vote.

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