Pence Opposes Farm Bill
U.S. Congressman Mike Pence gave the following speech today from the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives in opposition to the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008, the Farm Bill:
"Indiana is agriculture but Hoosiers, on and off the farm, also believe in fiscal discipline and reform. And it's for these reasons that I regretfully express my opposition to this Farm Bill, the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008.
"During my years of service on the House Agriculture Committee, I sought to be a voice for Indiana family farmers and an advocate for reform. I worked to advocate changes in this legislation and I want to express my profound appreciation to Chairman Peterson and to Ranking Member Goodlatte for including provisions in this Farm Bill that will save Indiana jobs and will create new opportunities for farmers across the Midwest.
"While I differ ultimately in the support for the final product, I respect deeply these two men and am grateful for their work on behalf of these issues.
"I am opposing the Farm Bill because I believe that it is fiscally irresponsible and does not contain the kind of reforms in American agriculture that these times demand. This bill fails to reduce the overall amount of government subsidies to farmers, fails to encourage market-based reforms to the nation's agricultural policy, and fails to promote international trade. It also fails to meet our nation's farm policy needs within our own budget guidelines.
"The Farm Bill being considered today will actually increase the size and scope of government and will cost American taxpayers more than $650 billion over the next 10 years. In comparison to the previous Farm Bill, this bill will cost at least $65 billion per year as opposed to the $45 billion dollars before. It is, in effect, a 44 percent increase in spending.
"I support family farming and I loathe the demagoguery of many who criticize farm subsidy programs, ignoring completely the real-world input costs that American farmers face but this bill still goes too far, in my judgment.
"It will continue to allow married couples with combined household incomes of up to $2.5 million to receive subsidies. Subsidy payments oftentimes, under this legislation and previous bills, are concentrated in the hands of a few, with the top 10 percent of recipients receiving nearly two-thirds of all farm payments.
"There are other problems with this bill as well.
"It would allow farmers to lock in price-support payments at the lowest possible market price, and sell their crops at the highest price. The bill also ignores the plight of consumers facing skyrocketing food prices by making a bad sugar program worse.
"I come to the floor with a sense of melancholy about this, having been on the Agriculture Committee during the development of the last Farm Bill and coming from the great state of Indiana.
"It has always been my ambition to support Indiana farmers; to support them with federal policy that enables farmers to sustain the American cutting edge in global agriculture.
"But I've always sought to do that in a way that protects our federal budget and protects the American taxpayer at large.
"It is for those reasons that I am opposing this Farm Bill legislation and urge my colleagues to do likewise."