U.S. Sen. Dick Lugar and Cong. Marlin Stutzman have sent their farm bill proposal to the 12 members of the Congressional Deficit Reduction "Super' Committee. The bill would cut $40 billion. Press reports indicated that Senate and House Agriculture Committee Leadership will suggest a bill that saves $23 billion.
The Super Committee is supposed to report deficit reductions by Thanksgiving.
In their letter to Super Committee members, Lugar and Stutzman say:
We write today to share our thoughts and suggestions for reforming federal farm and food support programs. As the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction continues its work in cutting the federal deficit, we believe that it is imperative that changes in agricultural policy focus on constructive reforms, which save taxpayer dollars.
Over the last several months, we have visited with a number of concerned Hoosier farmers and citizens on these important farm and food issues. Based on these valuable conversations, we have identified several areas where policy reforms can provide more reliable protection for those who need it, as well as real budget savings. On October 5, 2011, we introduced the Rural Economic Farm and Ranch Sustainability and Hunger (REFRESH) Act in both chambers (S. 1658 and H.R. 3111). This bill not only delivers an estimated $40 billion in savings over the next ten years, but it creates real reforms to U.S. farm and food support programs that will serve more farmers more fairly, while being responsive to regional and national crises that endanger the continuing success of America's farmers, and that will improve accuracy and efficiency in federal nutrition programs, while protecting America's hungry.
Specifically, the REFRESH Act reforms and eliminates outdated farm subsidies by providing a genuine safety net for all producers that saves $16 billion over 10 years, a reduction of 25% in ten-year spending. The bill continues to protect our nation's resources with sensible conservation reforms that save an estimated $11 billion over 10 years. And it will also close loopholes and eliminate government overlap in federal nutrition programs, saving $14 billion over ten years and cutting 2% from nutrition program spending. Lastly, the bill takes specific steps to create rural jobs in new and renewable energy, while continuing the future of American agriculture through research initiatives.
We look forward to working with you, as well as the rest of the members of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, to eliminate out-dated and unnecessary programs, provide a cost-effective safety net, and save taxpayer dollars.