|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]