Abraham: Budget deal an assault on rural America
WASHINGTON - Congressman Ralph Abraham, M.D., R-Alto, on Tuesday called the announced budget deal “an assault on rural America” because of provisions within the bill that would gut the Federal Crop Insurance program.
Dr. Abraham, a member of the House Agriculture Committee, joined a bipartisan coalition of agriculture leaders in Congress in authoring a letter demanding changes to the bill that would restore the cuts to crop insurance. The bill could be voted on as early as Wednesday.
“This budget deal is an assault on rural America and the farmers who produce the food we all need to survive. Crop insurance provides important protections to our farmers during difficult years, such as this year where we experienced both flooding and droughts. Congress cannot allow this invaluable program to be gutted during a back-room deal. I will work alongside my agriculture colleagues on both sides of the aisle to defend rural Americans from this terrible policy decision,” Dr. Abraham said.
“Not even two years have passed since we made a commitment with the passage of a bipartisan 5-year farm bill that included $23 billion in savings. The current Bipartisan Budget Agreement of 2015 breaks that promise,” the members wrote.
The continued, “Nobody consulted the Agriculture Committees of Congress when this provision was included n the bill, the details of which were not posted until the early morning hours of Tuesday, October 27. Instead, a reckless provision of devastating consequences was quite literally inserted in a back room in the middle of the night.”
The members have vowed to not only oppose the bill but to actively lobby other members in voting against the bill to guarantee its defeat if the provisions are not removed.
Along with Dr. Abraham, others who signed the letter include House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway, R-Texas; House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson, D-Minn.; Rep. Eric A. “Rick” Crawford, R-Ark.; Rep. Frank D. Lucas, R-Okla.; Rep. Jason Smith, R-Mo.; Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D.; Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn.; Rep. Stephen Fincher, R-Tenn.; Rep. Rod Blum, R-Iowa; Rep. Filemon Vela, D-Texas; Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan.; Rep. Trent Kelly, R-Miss.; Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Minn.; Rep. Doug LaMalfa, R-Calif.; Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas; Rep. Ryan Zinke, R-Mont.; Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas; Rep. Austin Scott, R-Ga.; Rep. Adrian Smith, R-Neb.; Rep. Randy Neugebauer, R-Texas; Rep. John R. Moolenaar, R-Mich.; Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill.; Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Fla.; Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Wash.; Rep. Rick Allen, R-Ga.; Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa; Rep. Roger Williams, R-Texas; Rep. Randy Weber, R-Texas.
The full text of the letter reads:
It has come to our attention that the “Bipartisan Budget Agreement of 2015” contains a provision that violates our pledge not to reopen the 2014 Farm Bill and would inflict serious injury on America’s farmers and ranchers at a time when net farm income is projected to be down by 53 percent over the past two years.
Section 201 of the bill is widely expected to end Federal Crop Insurance, which is critical to produces and lenders alike.
Specifically, the provision proposes to reduce rates of return to crop insurance companies from a gross of about 14.5 percent down to a gross of 8.9 percent. However, this does not tell the real story. Since 2011 actual returns to companies have averaged about 5 percent, and factoring in costs, the average returns are much closer to zero. The reduction contained in Section 201 would kill private sector delivery, which is responsible for the success of Federal Crop Insurance.
Not even two years have passed since we made a commitment with the passage of a bipartisan 5-year farm bill that included $23 billion in savings. The current Bipartisan Budget Agreement of 2015 breaks that promise.
Nobody consulted the Agriculture Committees of Congress when this provision was included in the bill, the details of which were not posted until the early morning hours of Tuesday, October 27. Instead, a reckless provision of devastating consequences was quite literally inserted in a back room in the middle of the night.
This provision must be removed from the bill. If it is not stripped from the bill, we will have no choice but to work to defeat this measure.