by Philip Brasher, CQ Roll Call Staff
A collection of groups critical of government spending are urging House members to reject an idea that’s a key feature of the Senate farm bill and to overhaul the federal crop insurance program. In their letter, (PDF) the groups say that Congress should cut agricultural spending by at least $30 billion, $7 billion more than the Senate bill would, and that it “is a must” for Congress to make “meaningful reforms” to crop insurance. The House has yet to start writing a bill. House Agriculture Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., has said it would likely cut about $30 billion in spending over 10 years.
The letter specifically warned against creation of a “shallow loss” program, such as the Agriculture Risk Coverage program in the Senate bill, that would compensate growers for revenue losses not covered by crop insurance. Lawmakers “must not create any new potentially budget-busting entitlement programs that would increase Washington’s role in farm business decisions, such as efforts to put taxpayers on the hook for “shallow losses’ in annual farm business revenue,” the letter said.
The letter concludes, “America’s agricultural economy is strong. This strength and the glaring weakness of the federal budget— $15 trillion in debt and trillion dollar deficits projected for the next decade—make it essential that Washington’s role in agricultural policy be reformed.” The signees include Americans for Prosperity, Competitive Enterprise Institute, FreedomWorks, Heritage Action for America, National Taxpayers Union and Taxpayers for Common Sense.