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McCaskill’s Bipartisan Legislation Would End Farm Direct Payments

Senator introduces bill with Republican Senator Jeff Flake to save $28.6 billion, end wasteful giveaway

February 14, 2013

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill and Republican Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona today introduced legislation that would end wasteful farm direct payments-direct cash transfers of taxpayer dollars to farmers from the government that do not take into account current yields or prices.

"The Missouri farmers who I talk to don't want or need this hand-out-they need a Farm Bill that protects them when disaster strikes, like the devastating drought we experienced just last summer," said McCaskill, who was born in Rolla Missouri. "Direct payments were designed to be temporary, and instead, have become an unnecessary giveaway, one we can't afford, and it's time for it to end."

Ending the program would save taxpayers $28.6 billion over the next ten years.

Direct payments were introduced in the 1996 farm bill, and while they were designed to be temporary, they were renewed in 2002 and 2008. Though direct payments were ended in the 2012 Senate-passed Farm Bill, that bill never received any action in the U.S. House of Representatives. The House Agriculture Committee also passed a Farm Bill that ended direct payments, but House Republicans leaders refused to provide for consideration of the House or Senate bill, causing a one-year extension of Farm Bill programs, including direct payments.

Direct payments, which cost the U.S. government nearly $5 billion a year, are fixed annual payments based on historical production-and are sent to individuals regardless of market prices or crop yields. These payments are heavily concentrated among the largest farmers, with one-third of payments going to just 3% of recipients. Cutting the program will save taxpayer's money while retaining a strong safety net for farmers, who will continue to benefit from other commodity programs and subsidized crop insurance.

"When bipartisan groups of Senators and House legislators agree that this wasteful program must end, we can't let the program continue," McCaskill added. "It is time for the House to follow the Senate's lead in passing a bipartisan, reform Farm Bill that ends direct payments, reduces the deficit and modernizes farm programs."

Last year, McCaskill helped pass the bipartisan Farm Bill to support agriculture jobs, reauthorize essential disaster assistance programs, strengthen resources for family farms and ranches, and reduce the national deficit by more than $23 billion. In December, she joined a bipartisan group of Senators in urging Congress to include the Farm Bill as part of the end-of-year package, in order to provide certainty for Missouri's farmers and ranchers.

Text of McCaskill's bill is available on her website, HERE.

McCaskill's Fight for Missouri's Farmers and Ranchers

Claire McCaskill has consistently fought to ensure Missouri's farm and ranch families have the resources they need to succeed, and to prevent and overturn unreasonable rules and regulations on producers.

  • McCaskill helped pass a bipartisan Farm Bill to support agriculture jobs, strengthen resources for family farms and ranches, and reduce the national deficit by more than $23 billion.
  • McCaskill delivered a victory for rural communities, successfully forcing the U.S. Labor Department to withdraw proposed rules that would affect the ability of young adults to work on family farms and ranches.
  • McCaskill helped lead a bipartisan group of Senators in successfully demanding an exemption to allow the transportation of all farm supplies from any distribution point to a local farm retailer or to the consumer during planning and harvest seasons.

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