By Erik Wasson - 07/24/12 04:22 PM EDT
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Monday called on the House to bring up the farm bill now to ensure that farmers and ranchers receive disaster aid benefits, which expired last year, during this year’s record drought.
But the conservative groups said the farm bill is a boondoggle that should never see the light of day.
“We write urging you to resist special interest calls to use the current drought to lock taxpayers into a trillion dollars worth of bad agriculture policy. As you accurately noted recently, passing a new Farm Bill filled with special interest entitlements is not needed to address the drought facing many of our nation’s farmers," the groups wrote.
While the farm bill does reduce the deficit by $35 billion compared to current policy, it cuts less from farm subsidies than either President Obama’s 2013 budget or the House-passed budget authored by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). The bill does cut $16.5 billion from food stamps, although this is far less than the cuts in the Ryan plan.
On Monday, House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who represents a rural area, said that House leaders are educating members about the $957 billion bill and when they have the votes, they will bring it up, likely before the end of the year.
The groups that wrote Boehner said it's time for Washington to stop intervening in the free market with farm subsidies.
“Even with the drought, America’s agricultural economy remains strong. This strength and the glaring weakness of the federal budget — $15 trillion in debt and trillion dollar deficits for the next decade — make it even more essential that Washington’s role in agricultural policy be reduced. Now is the time to roll back wasteful and market distorting taxpayer subsidies. FARRM does the exact opposite,” the letter states.
The letter to Boehner was signed by American Commitment, Americans for Prosperity, Americans for Tax Reform, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Cost of Government Center, the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste, FreedomWorks, Heritage Action for America, the National Taxpayers Union, R Street, Taxpayers for Common Sense and Taxpayers Protection Alliance.
— This story was updated at 2:43 p.m.