U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) today voted against final passage of H.R. 2419, the Farm, Nutrition and Bioenergy Act, which re-authorizes several major agricultural programs. The Farm Bill affects the abundance and affordability of the U.S. food supply; the conservation of natural resources; future energy policy; and the provision of nutritious food for vulnerable Americans. Smith voted against the bill because of its high cost and its adherence to outdated, unwise agriculture policies. The bill passed by a vote of 231 to 191.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates H.R. 2419 will cost $286 billion over five years, and $614 billion over ten years. The benefits are concentrated in the hands of a small group of farmers. In addition, the trade-distorting programs in the bill will hinder the nation's ability to gain greater access to international markets.
“Americans deserve a farm policy that changes with the times to meet their needs. Unfortunately, this Farm Bill clings to an outdated, wasteful subsidy system. We must examine existing programs and subsidies and phase out those that are no longer useful to eliminate waste and ineffectiveness. This legislation does not go nearly far enough to modernize our agricultural policies,” Smith said.
“I am particularly concerned that the market-distorting subsidies in this bill will undermine our efforts to expand international trade and create jobs in Washington State. With one in three jobs in our State linked to trade, we can’t afford to take this step backwards.”
Smith supported an alternative amendment offered by Reps. Ron Kind (D-Wisc.) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) that would have reformed the farmer safety net to benefit small farmers at lower cost while reallocating funds to nutrition, conservation, specialty crops such as apples and cherries from Washington State, and rural development. Although this amendment did not pass, Smith will continue to push for fiscally responsible farm policies that ensure a nutritious and affordable food supply for all Americans.
The Senate has not yet passed its version of the legislation. Once it does, differences between the two chambers must be worked out before it can be sent to the President, who must sign the legislation before it becomes law. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns indicated the President may veto the bill if certain reforms such as tighter payment limits and lower subsidies for some crops are not adopted.