Early Thursday morning, the House Agriculture Committee advanced its version of the 2012 Farm Bill. Entitled the "Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2012," the underlying bill has a price tag of $957 billion over the next ten years. Seventy-nine percent -- or $756 billion -- of the bill is dedicated to the Nutrition Title (food stamps) while the remaining 21 percent - $201.7 billion -- is dedicated to the other 11 titles (including conservation, commodities, trade, crop insurance, and energy, among others). Freshman Congressman Tim Huelskamp, a fifth-generation farmer, voted against the Farm Bill in Committee.
During the markup, Congressman Huelskamp offered several amendments to add common sense accountability to food stamps, to ensure limited resources are used prudently, and to limit Washington's regulatory overreach. He had a successful amendment to clarify regulatory language that affects beneficiaries of Rural Utility Service (RUS) loans. Read more about that amendment here.
"I voted "no' as this is no longer a Farm Bill," Congressman Huelskamp said. "While this bill maintains key risk management tools in crop insurance, the bill spends too much on food stamps, offers too little regulatory relief for our farmers and ranchers, and expands too far the reach of government. It excessively empowers government at the expense of our taxpayers and our free markets."
"Just a decade ago, "Farm Bill' spending was split evenly between food stamp/SNAP spending and farm spending; now, about 80 cents out of every dollar will go to SNAP welfare spending. Although in the April reconciliation measure we identified ways to reduce waste, fraud, and abuse and to close loopholes -- all without taking a single calorie off the plate of someone who truly needs assistance -- this legislation excluded most of these common sense reforms. To make matters worse, this bill actually would spend 22 percent more in food stamps over the next five years compared to the last five years. With America quickly approaching $16 trillion in debt, that is irresponsible."
"Lastly, the dairy and sugar programs, and potentially as well as the target prices included in this bill, can distort the market by discouraging competition and controlling supply and demand. We need to be moving in the direction of less government control not more."