Search Form
First, enter a politician or zip code
Now, choose a category

Public Statements

Expressing Sense of House Relating to Crop Insurance

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

First of all, I would like to thank Chairman Lucas for his work on passing a farm bill through the House. It was not an easy task.

And the farm bill got a lot right, in my judgment. It eliminated direct payments. It made reforms to the food stamp program, which are in desperate need of reform. It consolidated duplicative programs, and the Agriculture Committee has started to implement very needed reforms of these programs. Unfortunately, I don't think it went far enough, which is why I am offering this sense of the House.

I think that we should accept what the Senate did--and they did it in a bipartisan fashion--to impose limits on premium subsidies going toward the wealthiest of farmers.

What this sense of the House does is it simply says, let's agree to the Coburn-Durbin amendment which said, for those making above $750,000, the sense of the Congress is that their premiums for crop insurance should not be as generous as everybody else's. In fact, their premiums should be subsidized by 15 percentage points. This is hardly draconian. In fact, I would support going much farther than this, as I have voted consistently in the past.

But what this says is, if you are a farmer and you make more than $750,000, all you will get is a crop insurance subsidy that is not as generous as everybody else's. It will be 15 percentage points less.

Let me give you an example. If you have protection for 50 percent of your yield, right now the Federal Government will subsidize 67 percent of that. Under this, if you make over $750,000, you would be subsidized by 52 percent of your crop insurance. Hardly draconian.

So what we are simply saying is, we had a vote that was 59-33 in the Senate to limit the subsidy for crop insurance for very wealthy farmers. That is 1 percent of all of our agricultural producers in the country, and what we should do is concede to that. We should agree with that in conference, and that is what the sense of this House resolution encourages.

With that, I reserve the balance of my time.


Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin. I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the chairman of the Agriculture Committee for a very civil debate. He and I have talked about so many of these issues. We have worked so well together, and he has done the yeoman's work on moving these bills to the floor. On this particular issue, we don't agree. He may not think that I am helping, but I think I am helping by passing this. The reason is that this passed 59-33 in the Senate. If we pass it here, that just takes off the table one contentious issue that they don't have to negotiate in conference, making it easier to focus on the other things that you have yet to reconcile in conference. So we are actually trying to help the Ag Committee out here. That is one way you can put it.

On a more serious note, I want to talk about a few of the criticisms.

Pooling. My friend from North Dakota mentioned that it is important to have crop insurance with these people with very, very high adjusted gross incomes in the pool to make the cash flow. That is an actuarial argument that works with health insurance--healthy people subsidize sick people--but that is really not an argument that, I think, flows with this kind of insurance.

Point number two: no one is saying that a person who has a high net worth, who has a high adjusted gross income can't get crop insurance. All we are saying is just don't subsidize him as much as everybody else. That is really not asking a lot. What we are saying is, if you are a farmer and if you make $750,000 of adjusted gross income or higher, you don't get subsidized by the taxpayer for your crop insurance as much as everybody else. Your subsidy is 15 percentage points lower than that of the people who make less than $750,000. You still get crop insurance. You can still buy it. You will still get a subsidy, just not as much as everybody else.

Look, if you buy insurance on 50 percent of your acres, instead of the government paying for 67 percent of that insurance, it will pay for 52 percent of your insurance. If you buy insurance to cover 65 percent of your acres, instead of the government paying 59 percent of the cost, it would pay 44 percent of the cost. If you buy insurance on 85 percent of your acres, instead of the government subsidizing 38 percent of the cost of that coverage, it will subsidize 23 percent of the cost of that coverage. So there is still a subsidy.

You are not penalizing or punishing success by not subsidizing people as much. If we were having a tax debate--if we were talking about raising taxes--then you are penalizing success. If we are talking about taxing and taking money from producers--from successful people, from businesses making any amount of money--then you are penalizing success. What we are saying is just don't subsidize people as much because this subsidy is taking money from hardworking taxpayers--from their taxes--to give to somebody else. What we are saying is let's not take money from hardworking taxpayers to give as much to farmers who are making more than $750,000. We just don't want to subsidize them as much. That is not punishing success.

The other point is that this is one of those rare moments in which I think there is bipartisan agreement that a farm bill really ought to be for family farmers. The purpose of the farm program is to make sure that individual families can stay farming, and that means the safety net needs to be there for that family farm. I know in Wisconsin most of our farmers don't make $750,000, so it probably doesn't affect many of the corn and bean or dairy farmers whom I represent. Maybe in North Dakota and in other States there are people with thousands of acres who make that kind of money. I think that is great--I think that is wonderful--but I still think that our taxpayers shouldn't have to subsidize them as much as the family farmer.

This is one of those opportunities in which I think Congress can speak with a bipartisan voice. I really believe, if the Hanna-Pingree amendment or the Blumenauer-Mulvaney amendment had been made in order, it probably would have passed. So this is our chance here in the House to speak with one voice on a bipartisan basis. Let's not subsidize folks at the high end as much, and let's protect that family farmer. Let's agree with the Senate and take this issue off the table as one of those contentious issues because we are agreeing bipartisanly and bicamerally that we ought to have a farm program for the family farmer and somewhere limit these subsidies. That is all we are asking for.

With that, I ask for its passage, and I yield back the balance of my time.


Skip to top

Help us stay free for all your Fellow Americans

Just $5 from everyone reading this would do it.

Back to top