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Public Statements

Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. CHABOT. Mr. Chairman, the rationale behind this amendment is simple: hardworking taxpayers should not have to subsidize the world's most successful companies and trade groups for their business and advertising overseas, yet that's exactly what the Market Access Program does. Every year, the Federal Government takes millions from taxpayers and hands it to multimillion-dollar corporations. These funds end up financing lavish international travel and marketing expenses for corporations that could most certainly afford to do it themselves. In my view, this is corporate cronyism for the well-connected, and with a $17 trillion debt, almost, it's time to end this misuse of tax dollars.

Just a few of the more egregious examples of waste include a taxpayer-funded Japanese Tweet While You Eat campaign to promote U.S. beef; an animated series in Spain promoting walnuts that chronicles the adventures of a squirrel named Super Twiggy and his nemesis the Colesterator; educational wine tastings in London, Denmark, Dublin, and Mexico; American whiskey tastings in Hong Kong; an elaborate outdoor dinner party in New Delhi, India, so that food critics could discuss prunes.

The list goes on and on, and the trend is disturbing. Billion-dollar-industries are padding their bottom line with American tax dollars. They ought to do these things, but they ought to do them on their own dime, not on the backs of the American taxpayers.

Take, for example, Blue Diamond Almonds, which despite their billion-dollar year in 2012, still received $3.3 million from the Market Access Program.

Or the U.S. Meat Export Federation which received $19 million from MAP last year, even though the value of pork and beef exports was at the highest level in history.

Or Sunkist Growers, Inc., which recorded its third consecutive billion-dollar year, but still received $2.2 million from American taxpayers.

So we have billion-dollar enterprises and million-dollar recipients of aid from the American taxpayer.

The bottom line is Congress should not spend hard-earned tax dollars this way. Republicans don't believe in it; Democrats don't believe in it. So let's stop doing it. Don't get me wrong, these businesses ought to be doing this. They ought to be advertising their own products, but they shouldn't do it on the backs of the American taxpayers. For the sake of the taxpayers, who are earning the money that we're spending here, I urge passage of this amendment.

I yield such time as he may consume to the gentleman from California (Mr. McClintock).

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Mr. CHABOT. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I introduced this amendment to reform the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP program, and specifically the electronic benefit transfer account program within the SNAP or within the food stamp program.

The SNAP, or food stamp program, is in dire need of reform, and I think most people realize that and many have spoken out about that already. Under the current administration, the Obama administration, the number of people on food stamps has increased by 16.5 million persons. In 2011, the SNAP program handed out $84 billion in food stamps in 1 year alone. The SNAP program is now the second most expensive--after Medicaid--program, and it is the fastest growing of all the Federal Government's 80 welfare programs. This cost is unsustainable. Reforms can be made without impacting, in my belief, those who truly need assistance; and there are some who truly need assistance, and we ought to help them.

Under current law, unused benefits are rolled over each month and can pile up for an entire year. The current law is terribly flawed and encourages fraud and abuse. My amendment would increase the integrity of the program by ending the rollover and recouping leftover benefits. Instead of allowing benefits to remain unused in an account for an entire year, my amendment would return unused SNAP or unused food stamp money or benefits to the U.S. Treasury after 60 days, 2 months, which I believe is a reasonable period of time.

Those actually using the benefits or those truly in need would not be impacted. The intent of SNAP, or food stamps, is to assist those in need on an as-needed basis. If a recipient hasn't utilized all their benefits, those benefits could be used to help others who do need them or used to reduce our almost $17 trillion national debt.

Clearly, this is a program in need of reform. My amendment addresses the out-of-control growth we have witnessed with this program over the past 4 years, and I urge my colleagues to support this amendment.

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Mr. CHABOT. Mr. Chairman, I would also note that almost 80 percent of the farm bill--we're spending about a trillion dollars overall--goes to the food stamp program. So we're talking about a very significant part of the overall farm bill.

The GAO notes in a report:

It's inconclusive regarding whether SNAP, or food stamps, alleviates hunger and malnutrition in low-income households.

Think about that. It's inconclusive whether it actually reduces hunger or malnutrition. And the people that it's supposed to be helping, which is low-income households, if that's the case, why are we spending all these dollars? This doesn't go to the entire food stamp program, obviously; it just goes to a certain item, and that is reducing from a year, allowing those dollars to pile up, to a reasonable time, which is 2 months.

I would also note that the GAO report goes on to say that the amount of SNAP money paid in error is substantial, totaling in the billions of dollars.

So it's clearly something that should be reformed.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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