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Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2013 - Continued

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. COBURN. Madam President, 4 percent of the farmers in this country receive 33 percent of the benefits from crop insurance. I don't think it could be said any better than Senator Durbin has said it. The point is, what we ought do is make sure there is a safety net, and crop insurance is the way to do that. But like every other program, we eventually are going to ask those who have more to participate more.

I have the location and how much the top five farmers in this country actually get. The No. 1 farmer in the country gets $1.9 million worth of subsidies a year. All we are going to do is cut his subsidy to $1.6 million. His income is far in excess of $750,000.

The No. 2 farmer is from Washington State. We will cut his subsidy from $1.7 million to $1.4 million, and, of course, he made far more than that in the last year and in the previous years.

No. 3, located in Minnesota, we are going to cut from $1.6 million to $1.4 million. We are still going to subsidize $1.4 million a year for this one individual who is going to make in excess of $2 million this year.

All we are asking is to appropriately limit the benefits that are coming from borrowed money against our children's future for the very wealthy in this country.

I reserve the remainder of my time.

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Mr. COBURN. The No. 1 person who cares about the environmental quality of their land is the farmer. The bigger the farmer, the more they care.

The No. 4 farmer, as far as crop insurance in the country, farms 105,000 acres. The average farmer in Oklahoma has 160 acres. They will make an economic decision, and if a 15-percent bump in their premium will cause them to go out, they will go out. But they will not go out because it is too much of a sweetheart deal. We are still going to pay almost half of their crop insurance--50 percent.

Does anybody else have that kind of deal going? Nobody else has that kind of deal going.

What we are saying is, let's save some money and ask those who are more well endowed with benefits and profits to pay a fairer share of what they should be paying based on the benefits they get.

The one thing the chairwoman didn't say is these are the guys who collect the big bucks when there is one. They do pay a portion of it, but their payouts are hundreds of times higher than the average farmer.

They will make an economic decision, and they are not going to walk away from this because it is still--even at 48 percent--too sweet of a deal for any of them to walk away. There is no study that says they will walk away.

Wait and see. If they walk away, Senator Durbin and I will walk down and offer mea culpas on the Senate floor.

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Mr. COBURN. Let me just make the point. The large farmers I know in Oklahoma really don't want the government telling them what kind of agreement they are going to have with their crop insurance and environmental things. We already have a ton of rules.

What I do know is there is nobody in Oklahoma who cares more about the environment than our farmers. I disagree there is a disconnect if we limit the crop insurance subsidy to the very large farmers in Oklahoma and that they are not going to do what is in the best interests of the environment since it is a benefit to their own economic well-being.

We understand a deal was cut to get us to where we are on the bill, and we are not trying to disturb that. We don't want to disturb that, but we cannot continue to subsidize the very well heeled in this country to the same level that we try to protect those who are marginal. We just cannot do it.

We could have made this a whole lot different. We could have lowered it even lower. We didn't do that. The average median family income in this country is less than $60,000. We are talking about almost 15 times more than the average family in this country makes, and saying: If you make more than that, maybe you could take a little trim off the subsidy of your crop insurance. That is not an unfair question.

I yield to my colleague from Illinois.

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