Ag Policy Blog

Conservative Groups Line up Opposition to House Farm Bill

Chris Clayton
By  Chris Clayton , DTN Ag Policy Editor
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Americans for Prosperity and Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce on Thursday published a letter saying they oppose the farm bill recently passed by the House Agriculture Committee.

That letter came after Heritage Action posted a separate blog listing a coalition of "leading organizations in the conservative and free-market community" calling for major reforms "to the out of control farm subsidy system."

Americans for Prosperity and Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce have funding ties to conservative funders David and Charles Koch.

“While the bill includes some positive reforms to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, the legislation is still rife will corporate welfare that primarily benefits wealthy owners of large farm businesses,” the groups said.

“Overall, this farm bill would continue a troubling pattern of irresponsible and reckless spending under this Congress that began earlier this year with the $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill.”

These moves by conservative groups against the farm bill put pressure on House leaders trying to rally support for the bill because Democrats are already likely to vote almost unanimously against the bill on the floor due to nutrition cuts. The conservative pressure may make it more difficult to muster enough Republicans to advance the bill.

In a letter addressed to all House members, Freedom Partners Executive Vice President Nathan Nascimento and Americans for Prosperity Chief Government Affairs Officer Brent Gardner said, “Congress should undertake a fundamental reassessment of all government programs, including those for agriculture and nutrition programs, and respect American taxpayers by putting them on a fiscally responsible path. The farm bill should not be an exception.”

“Reforms are needed on both sides of the farm bill — not just SNAP,” Nascimento and Gardner wrote. “Congress should use this farm bill as an opportunity to also overhaul the costly and unfair corporate welfare programs which give the farm bill its name.”

They also said President Donald Trump made a number of “commonsense recommendations” for reform in his fiscal year 2019 budget.

The Heritage blog lashes out specifically at farm programs for "cronyism, waste, central planning and promoting dependence." The blog states,

"Agricultural special interests would have you believe that daring to touch farm subsidies is somehow anti-farmer. Since when do conservatives think that promoting our principles is harmful to Americans, including farmers? It is by promoting our principles that we will best help those small number of producers receiving subsidies. Quite simply, respect for farmers doesn’t mean tolerance for wasting taxpayer money on handouts."

The farm bill makes few changes to major commodity programs, but does broaden family eligibility. The bill also protects crop insurance from cuts, a key element championed by most major farm organizations.

Letter to the House on farm bill https://goo.gl/…

Heritage Action blog https://goo.gl/…

DTN Ag Policy Editor Chris Clayton contributed to this report.

Jerry Hagstrom can be reached at jhagstrom@njdc.com

Follow Jerry Hagstrom on Twitter @hagstromreport

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