Issue Position: Agriculture
Oklahoma's farmers and ranchers deserve a Department of Agriculture and a federal farm program that reflects their values of independence, self-reliance, thrift, community, honesty and integrity. Federal farm dollars should directly impact family farms -- not expand the bureaucracy. I am committed to bringing increased efficiency and decreased bureaucracy to each area of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and our farm programs.
I have worked hard to promote and protect the values of Oklahoma agriculture in the Senate. I opposed the most recent farm bill, which was hijacked by non-farm interest groups, and now leaves American agricultural producers more vulnerable than before. In the long-term, every aspect of federal spending -- including farm policy -- can and must come under close review. I will fight to make sure that our farmers are fairly represented in all debates about this vital Oklahoma industry at every opportunity.
Oklahoma agriculture has been hit hard by wildly fluctuating commodity prices, high fuel prices and poor trade negotiations. Volatile natural gas prices and excessive environmental regulations have sent fertilizers costs skyrocketing and low supplies have forced diesel prices even higher. I was a supporter of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which will encourage further domestic exploration of traditional fuels and boost development of alternative fuels (including agrifuels). We must diversify our energy supplies and lessen our dependence on foreign sources of energy, or this crisis will only worsen.
I will continue to rein in an outdated, inefficient USDA that fails to adequately serve farm country in the 21st Century. With over 100,000 employees and nearly 11,000 in the Washington, DC area, this bureaucracy would rank as the sixth largest company in the United States if it were private.
These efforts include:
* Working to ensure federal farm funds are not siphoned off by non-farmers.
* Keeping America's commitment to maintain conservation dams and levees throughout Oklahoma.
* Offering alternative emergency funding amendments, fully paid for with reductions in other non-priority federal programs.
* Supporting fair trade agreements that open new markets for Oklahoma crops.
* Leading the fight against federal lands legislation that block access to American energy and drives up productions costs for American agriculture.
* Fighting for the rights of cattle producers to be free from excessive and overbearing federal regulation, including strong opposition to plans by the EPA to regulate livestock emissions.
* Working to ensure that Oklahoma farmers are treated fairly by the federal crop insurance program, and to weed out fraud and abuse in the program.
* Opposing mandatory federal animal identification programs that may threaten the constitutional rights of farmers and ranchers.
* Working with the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to identify inefficient and duplicate nutrition programs authorized under the Farm Bill.
On agricultural trade, we must do a better job of ensuring that our products are treated fairly. For too long, we have sacrificed agricultural products in trade negotiations all in the name of diplomacy. Every nation in the world wants access to the U.S. market -- the world's largest. As a condition of that access, however, any country wanting to export to the United States must grant American producers similar access to their own markets. That is not happening, and must change soon.
It is my belief we must never surrender our sovereignty to the World Trade Organization (WTO) or any other unelected international bureaucracy. The WTO has become a vehicle for other nations to destroy our agricultural trade, and as your senator I will fight any effort by the WTO to dictate American farm policy.
Finally, I am committed to the elimination of the death (estate) tax. It is preventing the next generation of Americans from entering agriculture, and is a serious threat to the sustainability of farming throughout our land.
Our state and nation depends on a stable, efficient domestic farm economy to supply our most basic food needs. As a U.S. senator, I am committed to policies that ensure the long term survival of the American farm.
Dr. Coburn believes the debate on reauthorizing the farm bill should focus on freeing up farmers from the current bureaucracy of federal farm policy. He offered several amendments to the farm bill to accomplish this goal. Click here to read more about Dr. Coburn's amendments to the farm bill.
Dr. Coburn offered an amendment to the 2007 emergency supplemental spending bill to provide emergency farm relief in a fiscally responsible manner.