We Still Need Farm Bill Reform!

I was disappointed in last week’s farm bill vote in the U. S. House of Representatives. The bipartisan FAARM Act repeals or consolidates over 100 USDA programs and saves taxpayers $40 billion. Congress must act to reform federal agriculture programs; otherwise, the costly, outdated 1949 permanent farm law will kick in and could eventually wreck havoc on the free market and the food supply chain in this country.

I wasn’t in Congress in 1964 when food stamps were placed under the USDA’s administrative jurisdiction, but I am committed to acting to curb the explosive growth of the SNAP program. The FAARM Act would make great strides in this area by preventing federal and state governments from recruiting SNAP participants and by prohibiting the advertising of SNAP on TV and radio. It would also close loopholes used by the Obama Administration to increase SNAP participation by eliminating “Categorical Eligibility” and reinstating the asset and income tests for program participants. These reforms, the first since 1996, would save the taxpayers over $20.5 billion.

The FAARM Act includes the most significant farm spending reductions in history, eliminating direct payments to farmers and ending payments to people who do not actually grow food and fiber. With these farm subsidies abolished FAARM limits producers to a risk management option that offers assistance only when producers suffer significant losses; FAARM also strengthens crop insurance, a successful public-private partnership that ensures farmers have skin in the game.

The House Agriculture Committee is the only Congressional Committee to voluntarily offer up savings of this magnitude to the taxpayers. Last week’s failure to pass FAARM in the House means that the status quo is maintained on federal agriculture programs; this simply cannot stand. Our nation’s taxpayers deserve reforms that reduce the deficit, and our nation’s producers of food and fiber deserve certainty regarding the risk management tools available to them.

– Frank.