Mr. COURTNEY. Mr. Chairman, I demand a recorded vote.
The Acting CHAIR. Pursuant to clause 6 of rule XVIII, further proceedings on the amendment offered by the gentleman from Connecticut will be postponed.
AMENDMENT NO. 47 OFFERED BY MR.
The Acting CHAIR. It is now in order to consider amendment No. 47 printed in part B of House Report 113-117.
Mr. CONAWAY. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman for yielding.
I rise in strong opposition to this attack on a very important piece of the safety net that production agriculture relies upon. There are two possible outcomes for this amendment, and both are bad.
The first is that we're going to put the government back in the business of delivering crop insurance. We tried that. It didn't work. Government employees don't act nearly as responsibly as the private sector does. That comes with a cost, but the farmers like it. They get response from these folks that is appropriate.
Secondly, we would go back to the possibility of days when we spent billions of dollars on unbudgeted, ad hoc disaster relief.
And that's the least efficient way that we ought to go about this. And that's what this amendment does. It is bad for taxpayers. In spite of my colleagues' comments, this amendment won't save money. It will end up costing us untold billions in this ad hoc disaster spending that's the norm in that regard.
I know that the Environmental Working Group and other radical environment groups want to run our farmers and ranchers out of business. I get that. This amendment would certainly help them accomplish their goal.
So if your aim today is to stick the American taxpayer with billions of dollars to pay for ad hoc disaster bills, this is your kind of amendment. If you want to give the extreme environmentalist group, the crowd that gave us Meatless Mondays, a win in their effort to ruin American farming and ranching families, this will get right at it.
So I have farmers and ranchers struggling with 3 years of successive and severe drought. This is a slap in the face to those farmers and ranchers in west Texas and across this country. This amendment is not good, and I urge my colleagues to vote against it.
Mr. PETRI. I thank my colleague for yielding.
As the House considers the FARRM Act of 2013, I believe it's important that we offer the proper support for farmers, while ensuring that these support programs are responsible for the American taxpayer.
As you may know, the Federal Crop Insurance Program is the most expensive government program supporting farm income and is the only farm income support program that is not subject to some form of payment limitation or means testing. [Page: H3909]
This amendment, which incorporates the language in the AFFIRM Act that Representative Kind and I introduced last month, works to reform the crop insurance program. Capping crop insurance subsidies at $50,000 per person per year does not prohibit farmers from purchasing crop insurance, nor does it eliminate all taxpayer support for the program.
In fact, most farmers would not be affected by this cap at all. According to the GAO, in 2011, only 4 percent of farmers would have been impacted by this $50,000 cap on subsidy for insurance.
For 2001 to 2012, the total cost of premium subsidies jumped fourfold, from $1.8 billion to $7.5 billion. The Congressional Budget Office projects even higher costs in the future, averaging $9.1 billion annually. The subsidy cap, combined with the $250,000 means testing requirement, will assist in preventing fraud, waste and abuse in the Federal Crop Insurance Program.
The Acting CHAIR. The time of the gentleman has expired.
Ms. DeLAURO. I rise in support of this amendment, strong support of this amendment, because it aims to reform a broken crop insurance program. This is a program where taxpayers foot an average of 60 percent of the premiums for beneficiaries, plus there's the reimbursement of the administrative and operating costs, 100 percent of those efforts.
These are for private companies that sell the plans, including multinational corporations, some of whom trace back to companies who are in tax havens. And essentially, what it does, it works to improve crop insurance, it limits taxpayer subsidized profits of companies that sell crop insurance.
It does not harm the ability of the companies to sell these policies in any way. It would ensure that taxpayers do not continue to subsidize these administrative and operating expenses.
It's a bipartisan amendment. It enjoys broad support from a number of groups across the political spectrum, as has been laid out. It caps the amount of crop insurance premium support individual producers receive.
The Acting CHAIR. The time of the gentlewoman has expired.
Mr. BARROW of Georgia. I rise in opposition to the amendment. The people I represent value American agriculture and understand that food doesn't grow on grocery store shelves. It takes the hard work and high risk of farmers to get that food to market. I believe all of those farmers are worth supporting.
This amendment will undermine the safety net for many of those farmers, large and small. Many people don't realize it, but farm operations are made up of as many different kinds of farms as people. Different farms have different sizes, different ownership structures, different crop mixes and different equipment, and that diversity makes our domestic farming portfolio strong.
It's often the big guys who act as the hub of a farm community and offer the smaller farmers in the area access to expensive equipment that they could never afford on their own. These are all family farms in the best sense of the word, and they depend on each other for their livelihood.
This amendment effectively ends the safety net for the large family farmer, without whom many of our small family farms couldn't produce. I, therefore, urge my colleagues to oppose the amendment.
Mr. KING of Iowa. Mr. Chairman, I appreciate your yielding also to me.
I rise in opposition to the Kind amendment, and do I so because I don't want to see agriculture distorted.
We've watched as equipment's gotten larger, farms have gotten larger. And when you start locking this thing down and tying it to an AGI, what you really have is a means test for the first time. It pits neighbors against neighbors.
Here's what I remember. Back in the eighties, when we had a farm crisis and we had a real disaster, I saw on the front page of the paper, $26 billion in farm subsidy disaster money to deal with drought and the climate that we had and the bad economic climate.
We haven't had those calls. 2011 we had a big flood. No calls for disaster money. 2012 we had a big drought. No calls for disaster money.
Crop insurance is working. Eighty-six percent of the crop is insured today. I recall it being 13 percent back then when I saw the $26 billion bill hit the headlines in the Des Moines Register.
So I urge opposition to the Kind amendment.
Mr. LUCAS. I yield to myself, Mr. Chairman, 2 minutes.
The ranking member makes very valid points. When you look at the way Federal crop insurance works, it shifts the risk from the Treasury to the private companies to the reinsurers to the farmers and ranchers. If you look at how these premiums and payments have gone over the last decade--not just the really tough weather last year--you'll find that, in reality, 70 percent of the policies over the last 10 years have not returned one single penny--70 percent.
And if you look at how the program has worked in the 7 years prior to the onset of the drought of 2011, basically the Federal Government actually made money on Federal crop insurance. Now, I can't help the anomaly that the superdrought was in the Midwest. But I can tell you that's a pretty good track record.
The ranking member is entirely right: it works. Let's not mess up something that works. With that, I reserve the balance of my time, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. RODNEY DAVIS of Illinois. Thank you to my colleague, Chairman Lucas. Thank you to Ranking Member Peterson.
We agree: crop insurance is not broken. I stand here today to remind my colleagues on the other side of the aisle that recently Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack sat in our Agriculture Committee hearing and said that crop insurance is not broken. Crop insurance is one of the most successful programs we have in the Midwest as you heard in this debate. We see that we're not doing off-budget disaster assistance. We see that farmers are willing to give up direct payments to have better risk-management
tools like crop insurance.
Let's also get to the point, too, that bankers, our creditors, will not give loans to our farmers and keep our family farms in business without a strong risk-management program like the effective crop insurance program that we have.
I urge all of my colleagues to oppose this amendment. We need to ensure that this risk-management tool, crop insurance, stays as viable and as effective as it is; and I stand here today and agree with Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and agree that crop insurance is not broken. Please oppose this amendment.