Commenting further on Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns’ speech Friday at the National Press Club, we note he mentioned the NAM by name, among those groups criticizing the farm bill reauthorization because of the multibillion dollar tax increase added at the last minute (without any public hearings).
We did some research at the USDA. I always tell people if you want information, I’ve got it, because we have data on everything at the USDA. I asked the question, have we ever done a Farm Bill with a tax increase rolled into it? One time — 1933, Farm Adjustment Act of 1933, only time. Ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.
We don’t pass farm bills that way. But the most remarkable thing about this, the most remarkable thing about this is that we put farmers and ranchers in this position of supporting a tax increase on another industry to finance their program. Remarkable.
And now we have pitted America’s farmers and ranchers against the National Association of Manufacturers, the Organization of International Investment, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the United States Council for International Business, and I could go on and on.
We haven’t broadened the support for farm policy; we have narrowed it.
Thing is, the opposition was reluctant, generated at the last minute by the surprise tax increases on foreign investment.
Any large piece of legislation like the Farm Bill is bound to have good and bad in it; H.R. 2419 contained provisions that many manufacturers were receptive to — the energy title, for example, with its language encouraging development of bio-fuels. And, politically, who wants to oppose a farm bill? For one thing, it’s tiresome to be attacked as being an enemy of rural America, which is the usual disingenuous rhetoric levelled against any criticism.
Johanns expressed hope that the Senate takes a different approach, producing a farm bill that embraces both reform and fiscal responsibility. Agreed. As the Secretary said,
If there was ever a time when our farm programs needed friends, it is now. Have you read the editorials across the United States about these programs? If there is ever a time when we need friends for our farm programs, it is now. It is no time to be making enemies.
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