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Dr. Coburn Rejects $300 Billion Giveaway to Bureaucrats and Lobbyists Masked as a Farm Bill

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

Dr. Coburn Rejects $300 Billion Giveaway to Bureaucrats and Lobbyists Masked as a Farm Bill
House, Senate Remove Coburn Amendments Behind Closed Doors

U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) released the following statement today after voting against the Farm Bill. The bill was passed by 81-15 and will likely be vetoed by the President.

"As food and gas prices reach record highs and families are feeling the strain on their budgets, this bill does nothing to help improve the quality of life for farmers and hard-working families. Rather, this bill gives billions to huge conglomerates, special interest groups and inefficient nutrition programs. Congress has put their elections and parochial interests ahead of traditional farmers and middle class families," Dr. Coburn said.

The final version of the legislation expands subsidies to many non-essential crops such as strawberries and other fruits and vegetables, increases sugar costs by $2 billion annually for taxpayers and does nothing to remove wasteful, duplicative and unnecessary programs at the already bloated United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The bill also does little to address payments to deceased farmers and limit subsidies to non-farming land owners.

"After more than a year of negotiations on the Farm Bill, Congress has produced a bill that is bad for American agriculture, consumers and taxpayers. It is clear that elected leaders in Washington have lost sight of what this bill means to so many making an honest living providing food for our nation. Congress has put the priorities of special interest non-farm lobbyists over the long-term interests of Oklahoma farmers and ranchers. This is not a farm bill. It is a nutrition/social programs bill, with a few farm programs thrown in," said Dr. Coburn.

Coburn amendments that were eliminated behind closed doors include:

• A provision Coburn offered was removed that prohibited federal funds for the construction of the water garden (a "gift" from China), and required an annual report that would detail costs of operating the Arboretum.
• Coburn's provision prohibiting payments to farmers who have been deceased for more than two years was removed.
• Coburn's amendment that would have kept non-farming land owners from receiving subsidies and grants, leaving more scarce dollars for real farmers and ranchers.
• Coburn's amendment to require GAO to study and report on federal hunger programs effectiveness measurements for several overlapping and duplicative programs and grants.

Examples of waste and misplaced priorities within the bill include:

· $170 million to be distributed to commercial and recreational members of the fishing communities affected by the salmon fishery failure in the States of California, Oregon, and Washington.
· $2.5 billion for "specialty crops" which include: strawberries, blueberries, grapes for wine, citrus fruits, figs, herbs, pistachios and 100 other "specialty crops."
· The bill extends and enhances support for domestic sugar and sugar beet monopolies.
· The bill increases spending for duplicative and inefficient nutrition programs by over $10 billion.
· The ethanol subsidies and import tariffs are extended when food prices are skyrocketing.
· The Nature Conservancy will be the beneficiary of $250 million in taxpayer funds for the purchase of property in Montana and protecting "native fish habitat."
· The bill will give grants to local governments, non-profits and tribes to "acquire private forest land" that may be threatened by development which could infringe on private property rights.
· "Such sums" as necessary for historic barn preservation.
· Does nothing to address the fact that the USDA, if a private company, would be the 6th largest in the United States.
· Funds necessary for Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network.
· $3.75 million for the University of the District of Columbia to upgrade agriculture and food science facilities.
· $15 million market loss assistance for asparagus growers resulting from imports during the 2004-2007 crop years.
· $50 million for the National Sheep Industry Improvement Center (a two person office) in Washington, DC.

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