|4:52 PM EDT||
Steve Chabot, R-OH 1st
Mr. CHABOT. Mr. Chairman, the rationale behind this amendment is simple. Hard-working taxpayers should not have to subsidize the advertising costs of America's private corporations, yet this is exactly what the Market Access Program does.
Since 1986, the Federal Government has extracted well over $1 billion from the pockets of American taxpayers and handed it to multimillion dollar corporations to subsidize their marketing programs in foreign countries. In other words, the U.S. taxpayer is helping successful private companies and trade associations advertise their wares in foreign countries.
Mr. Chairman, I think the American people would agree that their money could be better spent on deficit reduction for education. Rather than subsidize private businesses and corporations, that money could much better be spent on deficit reduction or on education or on saving Social Security, on the environment, or on tax cuts.
In the past, we have witnessed MAP supporters present some good-sounding arguments for preserving what is in my view a corporate welfare scheme. The only problem is that when we cut through the pro-MAP propaganda, there is no credible evidence to back up their claims.
Let me give my colleagues an example. MAP supporters have argued that this so-called business government partnership creates jobs. But I think, Mr. Chairman, that the American people know that the only jobs usually created by big government spending programs are for big government bureaucracies.
This view of the MAP program is backed by the General Accounting Office. GAO studies indicated that this program has no discernible effect on U.S. agricultural exports. So if the program cannot increase U.S. exports, how can it possibly create more private-sector jobs?
For years, supporters of MAP have lauded the economic benefits created by the program. However, in April 1999, a GAO report, requested by myself and Senator SCHUMER and a bipartisan group of House Members, concluded that the economic benefits of this program are uncertain at best.
According to that report, it seems that the Foreign Agricultural Service, the bureaucracy which administers this corporate welfare program, has used certain assumptions that the OMB has determined to be inadequate for economic benefit analysis. For example, the Foreign Agricultural Service assumes that there are no opportunity costs for promoting one product over another.
But even if my colleagues do believe these supposed benefits, they have all the more reason to support this amendment. These numbers, if accurate, prove that, given these positive returns on an investment overseas, MAP-supported corporations and trade associations ought to be spending their own money and not the money of the taxpayers of this Nation.
My opposition to MAP is not based solely on the false premises of its supporters. I am offering this amendment today because we simply do not need this wasteful program. Let us be honest. Most American businesses do not benefit and do not try to take advantage of government handouts like this MAP program.
In the case of MAP, as in most corporate welfare programs, beneficiaries consist primarily of politically well-connected corporations and trade associations. Most, if not all of these organizations, would advertise their products overseas, even without MAP funds. They probably would work much harder to ensure that the money is well spent.
Let me give just one example of the kind of waste and mismanagement that this program breeds. We all remember a few years ago when the California Raisin Board sponsored the ``I heard it through the grapevine'' raisin commercial. Based on the success of that commercial in the U.S., MAP decided that it would be a good idea to use that commercial to attempt to boost raisin sales in Japan and put $3 million into the project.
Not surprisingly, however, the ads played in English, leaving many Japanese confused, unaware that the dancing characters were raisins. Most thought they were potatoes or chocolate. In addition, many Japanese children were afraid of the wrinkled, misshapen figures. This, of course, is the kind of wasteful spending that inevitably occurs when we give someone the ability to spend other people's money.
Mr. Chairman, Congress should end the practice of wasting tax dollars on special interest spending programs that unfairly take money from hard-working families to help profitable private companies pad their bottom line. MAP is a massive corporate welfare program that we should eliminate today.
Finally, in MAP, MAP's proponents have argued that due to recent reforms, big corporations no longer receive MAP funds. It is true that in June 1998, in order to correct some of the more egregious abuses of the MAP, Market Access Program, the Foreign Agricultural Service revised its regulations to limit a company to 5 years of assistance in a particular country. After this 5-year period had expired, companies were to be graduated from the country's market. Translation: These billion-dollar corporations
were no longer to receive tax dollars to fund their product promotions.
So I would strongly urge my colleagues to vote to get rid of this very wasteful program.
|4:59 PM EDT||
Joseph Skeen, R-NM 2nd
Mr. SKEEN. Mr. Chairman, I rise in opposition to the amendment.
Mr. Chairman, this is an annual debate, and I am not sure why we have to have it. Virtually all of our competitor nations spend money to promote their products against ours. We have had testimony from both USDA and many private-sector companies about the success of the program, particularly for small enterprises.
Mr. Chairman, I oppose the amendment and ask my colleagues to do the same.
|5:03 PM EDT||
Thomas Ewing, R-IL 15th
Mr. EWING. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of words.
Mr. Chairman, I reluctantly rise to oppose this amendment by my colleague. While I am sure it is well intended, it is like some of the other amendments we often get but, fortunately, this year have not gotten on this bill dealing with important crops like peanuts, sugar, and tobacco. But let me speak to the MAP, the Market Access Program.
The United States is outspent more than 20 to 1 by our foreign competitors spending money on export promotion and export subsidies. In 1997, the leading U.S. competitors spent $924 million to promote agricultural exports, much of it in this country, and the United States spends $90 million. Ninety million dollars spent by the United States compared to $924 million by our competitors.
There is no limit placed on the amount that can be spent by exporting countries for agricultural promotion. The WTO does not limit that. And right now, while the U.S. has diminished the amount they have spent, other countries in the world are expanding the amount that they are spending to promote their products in this country and other places in the world.
Foreign spending in the U.S. on promoting our competitors' agriculture is growing. A hundred million was spent in 1997 for that purpose. That much more. The biggest spenders are New Zealand, Italy, Spain, Australia and Canada.
The U.S. exports have gone down over the past 3 years. This is not the time when we should be cutting the funds necessary to promote our exports. SUDA estimates that agricultural exports will be only $49 billion this year. Just 3 years ago they were $60 billion. We have serious problems in American agriculture. The way to address them is not to cut the promotional funds needed to make us competitive around the world, and I reluctantly would rise and ask my colleagues to oppose this amendment.
|5:13 PM EDT||
Leonard L. Boswell, D-IA 3rd
Mr. BOSWELL. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of words.
We have had some good discussion here already, and I am not going to try to repeat it over and over, but I appreciate the things that have been said. I might just give my colleagues a little lesson in history that some Members might not be aware of about the American farmer. We are in a crisis in agriculture, no question about it. I live out there, as many of my colleagues do. I just spent a week in my district, and it is tough and it is real.
A few years ago, when we had the Ag crisis of the 1980s, it was interesting to me, and that is what motivated me to get involved in this arena, the political arena, we had people going to their lenders and different organizations, and I will not get into that, and they told our farmers to go back and sell their cow herds or sell their sows, or do this or that. In other words, dispose of their factory, in a sense. We do not want to do that again. We have to get out there and be competitive in
the export market.
In my State we have to export about 40 percent to make things work. That is kind of a reflection of the country. We have to do about the same thing to make things work. As we have heard many of our colleagues say already, agriculture puts a plus on the trade deficit in our favor, so we cannot let this happen. It is not a time to let up and say we are not going to go out there and be competitive.
In our Committee on Agriculture here a number of weeks ago, we had the Secretary come and talk to us and mention the unprecedented 3 years in a row that there has been overproduction. And so when our people go to sell to someone else, they say, excuse me, we have something we want to sell. And so this is a time when we want to cut back on the promotion. We cannot do that.
So I encourage a ``no'' vote and hope that we can do that; that we can give a leg up for the American farmer and agriculture production. It is important to all of us. I do not care where we live, what part of the country, what we do, it is important to all of us and let us not forget that.
|5:15 PM EDT||
Ed Royce, R-CA 39th
Mr. ROYCE. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of words.
Mr. Chairman, since the Great Depression, American farmers were shackled by the Federal Government with programs and regulations that kept them from producing all they could. We all remember how many farmers were paid not to grow certain crops; they were paid subsidies to grow others.
Over the last few years, our colleagues on the agriculture and agricultural appropriation committees have done an excellent job in reducing harmful government interference in American agriculture and putting it on the road back to the market system that works so well. American farmers are now unshackled and free to produce as they see fit, not as Washington tells them.
However, more work remains to be done. The market access program is a relic of our former government-heavy agricultural system. The MAP program, the Market Access Program, provides millions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies per year to agribusinesses to supplement their international advertising and marketing.
We have heard that agriculture is one of the most important businesses in America, and we have also heard that advertising American agriculture overseas is critical. And I agree with these points. They are certainly true.
The question is not whether agriculture and American farmers are important. Without question, they are very important to this economy. And we all know that advertising is an essential part of doing business. The question is whether MAP is a proper use of taxpayer money. And it is not.
The cost of advertising should be borne by the firms which stand to benefit, not the taxpayers.
Let me also say that I do not believe that working men and women should continue to foot the bill for advertising subsidies to multinational corporations. Promotional advertising for product is simply not the role of government. It is the role of those private concerns that benefit from the sale of those products.
The future and continued performance of American agriculture is not contingent upon handing out taxpayer money for advertising. The success of American agriculture results from the energy and ingenuity of American farmers, not government subsidies.
Let me also say that as far as the GAO report, the GAO report found that there is no clear relationship between the amount spent on government export promotion and changes in the level of U.S. exports.
In a separate report, the GAO questioned whether funds are actually supporting additional promotional activities or if they are simply replacing private industry funds. What is obvious on its face is that money handed out by government bureaucrats does not magically become several dollars.
And let me say that another argument that is often made is that we are being outsubsidized by the European Union and other countries throughout the world. I might point out that our economy is outperforming those countries by every measure.
Our gross national product dwarfs most every other country in the world. We have the most productive workers. Our per capita income is highest. Unemployment is almost nonexistent.
I, for one, do not wish to follow the European model of subsidies. I do not think that many of my colleagues do either. We should continue striving to shed these vestiges of central planning instead of defending those that have crept into our economy in the past.
Government has no business deciding which companies are worthy of advertising funds. That is precisely what the free market is there to do, to allocate resources in the most efficient way possible. The government ought not to be taking tax money from companies to finance the advertising of their competition, which is the direct result of redistribution.
I make no argument that advertising sells products. This is obvious. The point, however, is whether private conditions should pay for the promotion of their own product or whether the American taxpayer should be forced to do so. We do not force the American taxpayer to pay for other corporate expenses like office supplies. American taxpayers should not pay for this cost of doing business. [Page: H3815]
|5:22 PM EDT||
Tom Latham, R-IA 5th
Mr. LATHAM. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of words.
Mr. Chairman, I would just like to make a few points. The idea that this money goes to large corporations is simply bogus. This money is matched by money which is raised from producers, such as pork producers, who are hurting so badly today. The cattlemen, the corn growers, the soybean growers put their own money with this. This is not to enhance a particular brand name. It is to sell U.S., high-quality pork, corn products, feed products overseas.
One part of the argument that I think is really missing is what effect do agricultural exports have on Americans as far as their jobs? And one gentleman made a statement about people working hard to pay taxes and using their money for this. Well, the fact of the matter is, in the State of California, where that gentleman was from, there are 124,000 jobs directly dependent upon agricultural exports. Think of it, 124,000 jobs which could be greatly reduced if we lose our export markets and if we
do not continue to grow in our exports.
In Ohio there are 27,000 jobs directly related to agricultural exports. It is extraordinarily important in a State like Ohio to maintain those good, high-paying jobs which are dependent upon agricultural exports.
In the State of Iowa, a smaller population State, it has a huge impact. We have 80,000 jobs in Iowa that are directly related to agricultural exports. So when we talk about this program being some kind of corporate welfare, I hope people here will recognize the fact that our constituents at home are dependent upon agricultural exports.
It is very important that we go and promote high quality American pork overseas, not a particular company, but American pork. It is very important that we promote American soybeans and find new uses for those product overseas for corn products, for beef overseas.
It is extremely important. We have a tremendous number of jobs that are directly dependent.
So let us not just talk about exporting and competing with other nations. Let us talk about at home in our own districts how important it is that we continue to use the tools available that the producers themselves are willing to contribute to to sell their products overseas which create good jobs at home in our own districts, high-paying jobs, and really are the future for agriculture in the international marketplace.
|5:25 PM EDT||
Robin Hayes, R-NC 8th
Mr. HAYES. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of words.
Mr. Chairman, I rise today in strong support of the fiscal year 2000 Agriculture Appropriations bill. I commend the gentleman from New Mexico (Mr. SKEEN), the chairman, and the gentlewoman from Ohio (Ms. KAPTUR), the ranking member, and all my colleagues on the subcommittee for bringing this bill to us, a bill which supports American farmers in rural communities. This bill comes to us after much time, deliberation, and discussion. I thank the subcommittee for their hard work.
I want to address the current amendment to eliminate the Market Access Program. This program is vital to the success of our farmers. If this amendment passes, we as a Congress are to blame for handing over U.S. agricultural market share to foreign competitors.
I believe with my whole heart that the American farmers are the most efficient in the world and produce the best products at the lowest prices and provide the safest food of anyone in the world. With this knowledge, I confidently say that given an equal opportunity, American farmers can compete and succeed against agricultural products from any other country.
However, American farmers are not being given this equal opportunity. The United States is outspent by more than 20 to 1 by our foreign competitors, promoting and subsidizing their own product.
In 1997, the leading U.S. competitor spent $924 million to promote their agriculture exports, $100 million of that spent on promotions here in the United States. Conversely, we grant our farmers assistance to the tune of $90 million to help them compete against our competitor's $924 million.
Rather than having this annual debate aimed at eliminating the program, I argue that Congress should rather be discussing a funding increase for the Market Access Program. This is the only program aimed correctly at helping U.S. agriculture products around the world.
Our competitors have no limits on what they will spend to assist their farmers in edging out our product. Their success is evidenced by the fact that U.S. ag exports have decreased by $11 billion since 1996.
In conclusion, let me simply say the Market Access Program is a valuable tool we are able to provide our farmers. This tool not only helps them compete abroad, but it also supports thousands of U.S. export jobs, 24,000 in my State of North Carolina alone.
I urge my colleagues to vote in favor of U.S. farmers by voting against this amendment.
|5:28 PM EDT||
John Baldacci, D-ME 2nd
Mr. BALDACCI. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of words.
Mr. Chairman, I rise in opposition to the amendment that has been offered by my colleague, who intends on eliminating the Market Access Program.
We revisit this issue annually. Reforms have been undertaken. The Foreign Agriculture Service reviews proposals submitted by the agriculture cooperatives and nonprofit organizations. They must provide matching funds. The FAS scrutinizes expenses and the performances.
Farmers across the country are suffering from prices having dropped. Export opportunities have been withering, and they are trying to gain a market share in countries around the world. They are competing with odds against them.
Eliminating the cost share assistance of MAP would make that struggle even harder.
As we have eliminated the trade barriers between our country and other [Page: H3816]
countries, and we have not required the same relaxation in other countries as our farmers are competing with their hands tied behind their backs, we are trying to help them to search out other markets, other opportunities, beyond their traditional markets. We have tried to do this and we have been successful at it.
The money spent in this program, $90 million, has returned, according to estimates, $12.5 billion trade surplus in agriculture. And when our country has a trade deficit of billions of dollars, this is the only part of our trade and our export that actually has a trade surplus.
In the Northeast and in Maine in particular, there are families that own apple orchards that are hurting. The money that would be helping to generate business for them in the United Kingdom is a generic promotion for MacIntosh apples which they are providing the match for. This is not a government handout but a match is required for them to participate in this program. It is a Federal program that is helping family farmers in a region where family farmers are struggling. I have been working with
lobstermen, using the MAP funds trying to open up Asian markets to them. And I have helped family-owned sardine canneries secure assistance.
This is not some huge welfare for huge corporations. This is for fishermen, for farmers, for people who are working in family-owned businesses who have chosen a rugged way of life to put food on the tables of America and the world. This program is aimed at small- and medium-sized companies. It has been reformed and it is working. It is one of the few areas of our Federal export-import program that is working very successfully and is working for small- and medium-sized family farms. I would urge
my colleagues to vote against this amendment and to keep this program working.
|5:31 PM EDT||
Lynn Woolsey, D-CA 6th
Ms. WOOLSEY. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of words.
Mr. Chairman, I rise in strong opposition to this shortsighted amendment which would have a huge impact on the constituents in my district, Sonoma and Marin Counties in California, a district where some of the world's finest wines are produced. If this amendment passes, our world famous wine would certainly have a more difficult time competing in the world market. So would our neighboring districts, Napa County, Mendocino County and neighboring States, Oregon and Washington, and States across
the country, like Arkansas.
This amendment would impact the small wine producers, those who rely upon Federal export assistance to enter and compete in the global marketplace. Let us be clear. The playing field in the world export market for wines is not level. Unlike Europe and unlike South America, U.S. wine producers receive no production subsidies, no subsidies whatsoever, for their production. Furthermore, our competitors outspend the United States in export subsidies by more than 6 to 1.
Mr. Chairman, small California wineries suffer in such a lopsided marketplace without some marketing assistance. Let there be no mistake, this amendment targets small, family-owned businesses. Eighty-nine percent of the wineries that participate in the Market Access Program are small wineries. Furthermore, the Market Access Program is not a handout. It is a partnership, a partnership between small businesses and the USDA. And it provides funds on a cost-share basis. The European Union export
subsidies amounted to approximately $10 billion last year, Mr. Chairman. In fact, the European Union spends more on export promotion for wine than the United States does for all of our agricultural programs combined.
We need only look at last year to see this unfair disparity. Market promotion funds for the American wine industry totalled approximately $5 million. The heavily subsidized European wine industry received $1.5 billion. That is $5 million in the United States and $1.5 billion in Europe. The money we spend to increase the markets for American agricultural products is money well spent. Because of assistance from the Market Access Program, U.S. wine exports had their 14th consecutive record-breaking
year in 1998, reaching $537 million. This level is $100 million over the year before, which means that each Market Access Program dollar generated a $20 increase in exports.
Just as important, California wines can now be found on the retail shelves of over 164 countries. In the last 10 years, an additional 7,500 full-time jobs and 5,000 part-time jobs have been created by exporting wine. This is not only good for the American balance of trade, it is good for the American economy.
Mr. Chairman, we should help export U.S. products, not U.S. jobs. Oppose this amendment.