Financing the Farm Bill

May 16, 2008

By: Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.)

Excerpt from Congressional Record May 15, 2008:

Why a bill at all? Well, because our major competitors have much more ambitious support for their producers than we have for ours. This is a fact. The Europeans are providing more than three times as much support to their producers than we provide to ours.

If we pulled the rug out from under our producers, it would be a calamity for farmers and ranchers in this country. Where does the money go? …Two-thirds of the money in this bill goes for nutrition. This is misnamed when we call it a farm bill. This is a food bill. This is an energy bill because it helps reduce our dependence on foreign energy, a critically important priority for this country, and it is a conservation bill.

Conservation of our natural resources is critically important to the future.

The other point I wished to make in conclusion is that this bill is paid for. It is pay-go-compliant. These are not my estimates; these are not the Agriculture Committee’s estimates, these are the professional estimates of the Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on

Taxation, which show this budget saves $67 million–not a lot of money, but nonetheless it does not add to the deficit; in fact, it slightly reduces it. It saves $67 million over 5 years, and it saves $110 million over 10 years. It is completely paid for with no tax increase.

Final point: I received last night from the IRS what I think is a very interesting set of facts. We have seen reported in the mass media that a couple could earn $2.5 million and still get benefits. Well, that is akin to the chance of getting struck by lightning because it turns out there are no tax returns in the entire country between $1 million and $1,250,000 that would have farm income below $750,000 and nonfarm income below $500,000. Zero. So all these press reports they have written about how millionaires are going to be able to qualify, they are wrong because there are no people in those rarified categories. You would have to have $750,000 of farm income and $500,000 of nonfarm income and both husband and wife would have to be in precisely those categories. Do you know what the problem with all those stories is? There are no people in those categories. That is not my report; that is the report from the Internal Revenue Serviceā€¦

This is good legislation. It is good for the country and certainly good for my State but also fair to the taxpayers of this country because it is paid for, and it represents the most dramatic reform since the 1949 act itself. That is a fact.

(Sen. Kent Conrad. Congressional Record. 5/15/08. p. S4214-S4215).