BILLIONS GO TO HOUSE PANEL MEMBERS' DISTRICTS
July 26, 2007
Members of the House who crafted a controversial $286 billion farm bill up for a vote today comprise about a tenth of the chamber, but their districts have reaped much of the benefits of past crop subsidies, according to an Environmental Working Group analysis of farm spending.
- Constituents of the 46 House Agriculture Committee members received nearly $15 billion in commodity subsidies from 2003-2005.
- Six members -- Adrian Smith (R-Neb.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas), Steve King (R-Iowa), Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-S.D.) and Earl Pomeroy (D-N.D.) -- received over $1 billion each for their home districts.
In response, the White House is pushing a proposal that would help cut off some of the excess spending, says USA Today:
- The president proposed a $200,000 cap -- which would have cut off subsidies to 38,000 of the richest farmers.
- The proposal is designed to alter a system that concentrates benefits among larger farms; the top 10 percent of crop subsidy recipients took in 66 percent of the money -- $23 billion of $35 billion -- from 2003-2005, according to the working group.
President Bush isn't the only one unhappy with the current farm bill. Rep. Ron Kind of Wisconsin, a leading Democratic opponent, said having the Agriculture Committee set the terms of debate is "a guarantee of the status quo," because the panel is beholden to "powerful and entrenched interests." Agribusiness spent $44.6 million on political contributions from 2005 to 2006 and $193 million on lobbying, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Source: Ken Dilanian, "Billions go to House panel members' districts," USA Today, July 26, 2007.
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