House Ag Committee Against Any Farm Bill Changes to Cut Spending

March 11, 2009 07:00 PM
 

via a special arrangement with Informa Economics, Inc.

Panel pledges to look for areas of waste, fraud and abuse


NOTE: This column is copyrighted material, therefore reproduction or retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.


The House Ag Committee wants no budget-related changes made to the 2008 Farm Bill and pledges to find areas of waste, fraud and abuse to garner savings to contribute to budget deficit reduction. The House Ag Committee today agreed on its budget views and estimates letter relative to the fiscal year (FY) 2010 budget resolution. And true to the commitment of House Ag Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), the panel wants no changes to the 2008 Farm Bill as part of the budget process. However, Peterson and members of the committee pledged in the letter to the House Budget Committee that they will search for areas of waste, fraud and abuse that could be addressed.

Arguing that the 2008 Farm Bill was "paid for" -- any spending increases above the baseline were offset with reductions elsewhere, the panel said they believe the bill should remain intact "so that families facing adverse economic conditions -- many through no fault of their own -- can be helped as intended."

Further, the panel labeled it "unwise" to reopen the farm bill to "reduce program benefits -- especially through proposals similar to those that, during the FCEA debate, were considered and rejected."

Rep. Peterson told me during a recent interview that he was against reopening the farm bill and, as noted in the letter to the Budget Committee, was going to have subcommittees hold hearings to find any potential areas of waste, fraud and abuse that could be found and addressed to provide budget savings.

In that interview, Peterson noted staff had already found some areas in conservation programs where savings could be generated, but he did not detail what those were. And, the letter to the budget panel doesn't identify those either.

Here's a link to read the full letter (pdf format).


Comments: Clearly, the reference of the panel being against attempts to reduce farm program benefits is in response to the Obama administration's budget proposal to eliminate direct payments to farmers with sales over $500,000. That plan is "dead on arrival," according to Peterson. And, given recent comments by USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack that the administration is "open" to ideas on that topic is a tacit admission that Peterson's pronouncement of the direct payment provision is accurate.


NOTE: This column is copyrighted material, therefore reproduction or retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.


 

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