The Honorable John Boehner
Speaker of the House of Representatives
H-232, The Capitol
Washington, DC 20515
The Honorable Eric Cantor
H-329, The Capitol
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader Cantor:
As you know, the House Committee on Agriculture has recently finished their work on the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013 (the Farm Bill). While this legislation is said to authorize spending related to federal agriculture policy, nearly 80 percent of the Farm Bill concerns nutrition assistance programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps. We believe that this trend has caused Farm Bill reauthorization to become a battle of competing interests, and it represents a major reason why reauthorization of the Farm Bill has been unsuccessful thus far. Further, as a matter of open and transparent government, our constituents deserve to have these two issues debated separately. As a result, we ask that you work to separate this legislation into two distinct bills before is comes before the full House of Representatives.
Since 2002, the eligibility for SNAP benefits, authorized under Title IV of the Farm Bill, has grown exponentially. Today, close to 47 million people - or more than one in seven Americans receive SNAP assistance. When initiatives born out of the 2009 stimulus legislation, such as increased advertising, the institution of cash bonuses for recruiters, and expanded eligibility for able-bodied individuals without dependents are taken into account, it is easy to see why SNAP enrollment has all but exploded. Unfortunately, the rapid growth of this program has only increased dependency on government and added to our federal deficit. We believe that SNAP is in in urgent need of reform, but that reform should not - and likely will not - be addressed through the Farm Bill. As a result, leaving the bill intact would simply allow this bloated program to continue to grow.
Meanwhile, the U.S. agriculture industry employs more than twenty-one million American workers - fifteen percent of the total U.S. workforce - who grow, process, and sell our nation's food. There are myriad federal policies and programs related to the industry which require significant attention as part of reauthorization, some of which harm taxpayers and consumers by providing unnecessary subsidies to farmers and artificially restricting supplies. However, these flawed policies are overshadowed by the sheer size of the nutrition programs found in the bill. At the same time, there is legitimate concern that agriculture policy will be used simply as a vehicle to ease passage of increased funding and additional expansion of nutrition programs, which are clearly a priority for this Administration. This effect would be detrimental to farmers and taxpayers as well as our federal budget.
We believe that the current, unwieldy format of the Farm Bill will hinder meaningful reforms to all portions of the legislation, harming American farmers in the process. For this reason, we respectfully request that you remove Title IV from this year's Farm Bill before it reaches the House floor.