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Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2012

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. HIMES. Mr. Chairman, I rise in support of the amendment offered by my colleague from Oregon.

And with all due respect to the ranking member, I think the effort to limit these subsidies is both fiscally responsible, more in keeping with the kind of market economics that so many of us in this Chamber believe are the right way to go, and will help the health of the American people, something that will have a dramatic impact on the rising health care costs in this country.

Mr. Chairman, the amendment would limit the total title I payments to farm entities to less than $125,000 a year. It doesn't eliminate them; it simply limits them. Under current law, market loan payments, loan deficiency payments, and commodity certificates are not capped, and entities can receive unlimited title I dollars.

Mr. Chairman, 4 hours ago in this Chamber, we debated amendments that would eliminate and gut the WIC program, WIC--women, infants and children. This is a program that seeks to provide basic food to poor children, to poor families.

There were amendments that would eliminate the Food for Peace program whereby we send food--in those bags that we've all seen, ``A gift from the people of the United States of America''--to people who are starving around this planet, a gift from the people of the United States of America at a moment when we can use friends. And we said we're going to gut them, we're going to reduce them. Why would you do that? You would only do that if you face the kind of budget constraints that we face today. A brutal necessity to find savings.

Here we have an opportunity to save nearly $1 billion in subsidies to large producers. These are not small farmers, as my colleague from Oregon said. The top 10 percent of subsidy recipients receive almost three-quarters of these funds. This is not the small farmer; these are big conglomerates.

These subsidies are bailouts. We hear a lot about bailouts in this Chamber. And nobody thinks bailouts are a good thing. These are slow-motion, year-in-and-year-out bailouts of an industry.

Many of my colleagues support both the goals of fiscal responsibility and the idea that markets are efficient. Here, not only are we taking taxpayer dollars and sending them to a slow motion, perpetual bailout, but we're doing it in such a way that it creates cheap corn sugars and other things that go into the fast-food that exacerbate the obesity problem in this country. This is a bad idea. And I urge my colleagues to support this amendment for both fiscal health and sheer market grounds.

I yield to my colleague from Oregon.


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