The Senate will be considering nominations. The House will be in Tuesday through Friday. The big item this week is the farm bill. Several amendments have been submitted that would reduce the bill’s costs and make other changes to the farm programs.

Among the proposed amendments are an amendment from Representative Bill Posey (FL-08) to limit benefits that can come to partnerships and joint ventures and requires including certain benefits in gross income. It eliminates the ability of family members to claim subsides.

Representative Mark Sanford (SC-01) will offer an amendment reducing the guaranteed rate of return for crop insurance to 12%. Yes, the federal government guarantees farmers a certain rate of return.

Representative Tom McClintock (CA-04) is offering an amendment to phase-out farm subsides.

Representative Mark Meadows (NC-11) is offering an amendment to limit commodity payments to those who actually farm (what a novel idea).

Representative Keith Rothfus (PA-12) is offering amendments to limit subsides to those with incomes below $500,000.

Representative John Duncan (TN-02) is offering an amendment to eliminate the Harvest Price option.

Representative Ron Kind (WI-03)  is offering an amendment to allow for public disclosure of who gets farm subsidies.

Representative Ralph Norman (SC-05)  is offering an amendment to reduce premium crop insurance subsides by 15%.

Representative Virginia Foxx (NC-05) has an amendment lifting restrictions on the sale of sugar and eliminating some price controls.

Representative Jamie Herrera-Beutler (WA-03) has an amendment repealing the Obama era “navigable waters” rule.

Representative Michael Burgess (TX-26) has an amendment limiting funds for some programs.

Representative Ron Estes (KS-04) has an amendment to repeal board-based eligibility for welfare programs.

Representative Andy Biggs (AZ-05) has an amendment to repeal bio subsidy programs.

Representative Thomas Massie (KY-04) is offering three amendments, one that exempts slaughterhouses that sell directly to consumers or in-state businesses that sell directly to consumers from federal regulations, one that allows sale of raw milk across state lines, and one that expands use of hemp.

The rules committee meets Wednesdays to decide what amendments to make in order. Hopefully, all the good amendments limiting spending will pass.

Campaign for Liberty has signed this letter in support of an open amendment process:

May 9, 2018

Dear Member of Congress:

On behalf of the undersigned organizations, we write to indicate our strong support for a robust amendment process throughout the upcoming Farm Bill discussion.

Members of Congress get the opportunity to weigh in on the Farm Bill only every 5 years. With no agriculture subcommittee mark-ups this year, there was even less opportunity to debate policy and voice priorities. The Farm Bill touches almost every facet of American life and economy – far beyond just its effect on the agriculture industry.

Members from across the nation and outside the full committee should have the chance to be involved in a process that impacts them and their constituency.

Because of the reasons listed above, the Farm Bill has usually been taken up under an open and fair process. The size and scope of the bill require full debate and a vigorous amendment process.

It is crucial that the Rules Committee adopt a rule that allows all voices and ideas to be fully debated and considered on their merits. In the 115th. Congress, numerous pieces of legislation reforming the Farm Bill have been introduced and deserve discussion.

The consequences of this bill should not be understated. The last iteration in 2014 carried a ten-year price tag of nearly $960 billion. The Farm Bill simply must be subject to the time and amendment debate required for a full and thorough consideration of all policies and reforms.

As the undersigned organizations representing thousands of Americans across the nation, we strongly urge a robust amendment process. Members should be allowed to introduce and debate policy ideas that will result in a bill that protects taxpayers and consumers, lends a hand up to needy families and farmers, and truly works for all Americans.

Sincerely,

Coalition to Reduce Spending

Americans for Prosperity

Campaign for Liberty

Club for Growth

Council for Citizens Against Government Waste

Freedom Works

Campaign for Liberty has also cosigned the following coalition letter calling for farm bill reforms. Although we favor eliminating all farm programs, anything that reduces tier costs and takes a step toward a free-market in agriculture is worth supporting

MAY 02, 2018

Dear Members of Congress:

The undersigned organizations are leading organizations in the conservative and free-market community, representing millions of members, supporters, and activists. We have come together to urge all House members to play a leading role in making major reforms to the out of control farm subsidy system.

The House Agriculture Committee farm bill, which is expected to be debated on the House floor in May, is unacceptable. It not only fails to make reforms to farm subsidies but makes the subsidies even worse. For example, it creates new ways to funnel more money to agricultural producers, including to individuals who do not even farm.

Our concerns about farm subsidies go well beyond excessive and unjustified costs to taxpayers. Subsidy reform is so important to our organizations because the existing subsidy system violates the most basic principles of conservatism, including a belief in free enterprise and limited government. There is nothing conservative about:

  • Cronyism. Our nation’s so-called safety net is not about protecting agriculture so much as protecting a small number of producers, usually the largest operations, growing a small number of commodities.

  • Waste. Most agriculture receives little to no subsidies and succeeds without federal intervention. Yet, for some producers of favored commodities, subsidies flow to them through multiple programs.

  • Central Planning. In 2018, it is hard to believe that the federal government dictates how much of a commodity can be sold, yet this is a key feature of the federal sugar program.

  • Promoting Dependence. The current subsidy system creates dependence on federal handouts, instead of empowering individuals to succeed on their own.

Agricultural special interests would have you believe that daring to touch farm subsidies is somehow anti-farmer. Since when do conservatives think that promoting our principles is harmful to Americans, including farmers? It is by promoting our principles that we will best help those small number of producers receiving subsidies. Quite simply, respect for farmers doesn’t mean tolerance for wasting taxpayer money on handouts.

There are many important and common-sense reforms, including reducing premium subsidies, placing a cap on ARC and PLC costs, reforming the sugar program, prohibiting protection against shallow losses, requiring producers to choose between ARC/PLC and crop insurance, and strengthening means testing and payment limits. Many of these reforms have been included in the Trump Administration budgets, identified by the Government Accountability Office, introduced in bipartisan legislation, and/or passed by the House.

Our organizations are taking farm subsidy reform very seriously in the upcoming farm bill debate. We look forward to working with you to provide more details about reforms and to create a truly conservative and free-market farm bill.

Sincerely,

Campaign for Liberty

Competitive Enterprise Institute

Coalition to Reduce Spending

Club for Growth

Council for Citizens Against Government Waste

Freedom Works

Heritage Action

Independent Women’s Forum

Independent Women’s Voice

John Locke Foundation

R Street Institute

Rio Grande Foundation

Taxpayers for Common Sense

Taxpay Protection Alliance

The House will also consider H.R. 5698, which increases punishments for crimes against law enforcement—thus once again violating the 10th amendment which gives states and local governments sole authority over most crimes.

The House will also consider several bills under suspension, including:

  1. H.R. 613—Allows federal prison guards to store firearms at work and carry guns outside of prisons. Good but the rest of us should also have these rights.

  1. H.R. 4854—allows the use of DNA grant funds to be used to reduce backlog of violent crimes

  1. H.R. 5242—orders federal government to conduct a survey on the number of “resource officers” (security guards) in public schools. This is no doubt a prelude to putting federally-funded armed guards in schools.

  1. H.Res. 285—Express the sense of Congress that the President should empower the creation of community-police alliances to foster dialog between law informant and citizens… once again Congress stepping over its constitutional limitations.