May 15, 2008
U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) today released the following statement regarding his vote against H.R. 2419, the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, commonly referred to as the Farm Bill:
“The bill passed today by the House of Representatives contained many positive provisions, including several that would benefit Washington state. Unfortunately, the core of the bill retained its wasteful, trade-distorting subsidies and represents a missed opportunity for real agricultural and trade policy reform.
“This year’s Farm Bill did contain provisions which I could have supported on their own, including an additional $10.4 billion for nutrition programs to help Americans afford healthy food. The bill also contained funds to mitigate massive salmon season closures in our state, along with tax relief for timber producers. This year’s Farm Bill also included welcome assistance for fruit, vegetable and specialty crops, along with research to aid global competitiveness of our Washington state farmers. Any of these provisions would have been policies I could support had the overall bill not been so fundamentally flawed.
“The fact is that our agriculture policy contains wasteful, market-distorting subsidies that insult taxpayers and hamper our nation’s economic growth prospects by undermining our trade policies. Our farm programs and those of other developed countries have been a central factor in blocking a breakthrough in global trade negotiations at the World Trade Organization (WTO). This stalemate over agriculture policy is preventing the conclusion of an agreement that could bring hundreds of billions of dollars of growth to the global economy, with major benefits for American manufactures, workers, farmers, and consumers alike. Few would benefit more from such a deal than residents of Washington State, where one in three jobs is linked to global trade. But this five-year bill misses that key opportunity by reauthorizing billions of dollars in market-distorting subsidies, effectively tying the next President’s hands in global trade negotiations. We can’t afford to take that step backwards.
“Aside from the trade concerns, the subsidy programs in the Farm Bill waste taxpayer dollars on too many well-off farmers that don’t need the help. The bill provides for subsidies to be paid to farming households with a combined income of up to $2.5 million dollars. The authors of the bill missed an opportunity to move ahead with real reform, instead opting for a mere 0.6 percent cut to the most wasteful type of subsidies. This is not real reform.
“This bill contained many peripheral provisions that could have been of benefit to American families and to Washington state in particular. It is unfortunate, however, that the core of the bill remains so fundamentally flawed.”