Myth Busters Part 4 – Baseless Administration Claims

April 22, 2008

In the fourth installment of our ongoing series about the unsubstantiated claims by farm policy opponents, Farm Policy Facts will take a closer look at a recent claim made by the Bush Administration about the pending farm bill.

Myth: “At a time of record farm incomes, Congress decided to further increase farm subsidy rates.” -Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer, May 9, 2008.

The Truth: Talk about fuzzy math. Farmers were the only group with an interest in the pending farm bill asked to take a budget cut.

The Conference Report currently before Congress:

  • Decreases commodity title spending by $1.7 billion;
  • Cuts direct payments to farmers by $300 million; and
  • Slashes crop insurance spending by $5.7 billion.

Even with the permanent disaster program, total the farm safety net is cut by $3.5 billion.

Bottom line, the farmer’s share of the federal budget would drop drastically under the new farm bill.

And, the pending farm bill goes even farther than simple budget cuts. It contains the most significant reforms in decades to farm programs. For example:

  • Farmers with incomes of $750,000 or more would not be eligible for payments, and individuals with off-farm income of $500,000 or more would lose benefits—the first hard cap ever put on farm program benefits.
  • The bill creates a fully transparent system of tracking payments by directly attributing payments to individuals and eliminating the “three-entity rule” which could theoretically be used by a few to sidestep payment limits.
  • Corn ethanol support in the form of production tax credits would fall from 45 cents per gallon to 41 cents per gallon.

When you consider the past words of President Bush, you’re kinda’ left scratching your head at his new-found opposition to a bill that would continue this success story and do so in a more fiscally responsible way.

“Our nation owes a debt of gratitude to our farmers and ranchers for helping to ensure stability in our economy, for providing food products that amply meet all our citizens’ needs, and for representing what is best about America.” -President George W. Bush