Press Release

For Immediate ReleaseContact: Sean Rushton or Melissa Naudin
June 20, 2001(202) 467-5300


Washington, D.C. – The Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW) declared a modest victory for taxpayers after today’s  24-23 vote, in the House Committee on Agriculture, to overrule its chairman and reduce authorization for emergency agriculture payouts from $6.5 billion to $5.5 billion.  The lower-cost package, offered by Reps. Charles Stenholm (D-Tex.) and John Boehner (R-Ohio), won over the objection of Chairman Larry Combest (R-Tex.). 

“Numerous special interests had lobbied for months for additional funding, and CCAGW, along with the Bush Administration, believed the $5.5 billion more than adequate,” CCAGW President Tom Schatz said.  “According to the United States Department of Agriculture, the addition of $5.5 billion would boost real farm income for 2001 to $1.2 billion higher than last year.  That income level would exceed or equal five of the last seven years, the only exceptions being the record-high income years of 1996 and 1997.  CCAGW does not believe that it should be the taxpayers’ responsibility to assure that real farm income should always exceed the previous year.”   

“Further, it is premature to provide even $5.5 billion, since nobody knows with any certainty what either crop yields or prices will be this year,” Schatz added.  “At this time, frankly, there is no evidence even to justify $5.5 billion in emergency agricultural assistance, so this victory is only a beginning for consumers and taxpayers.”

CCAGW also applauded the committee’s decision not to repeal the current one-cent penalty for forfeiting sugar under the price support program.  In effect, eliminating the penalty would have been a one-cent per pound price support increase for sugar.  “Repeal would not only reverse one of the few minor reforms to sugar policy from the 1996 farm bill, it would send a signal for more sugar production at a time when the market is oversupplied and the government already owns nearly 800,000 tons of surplus sugar,” Schatz also said.

The sugar program has always been a costly proposition for U.S. consumers, costing them nearly $2 billion annually.  For years, however, sugar program defenders have claimed that the program was a bargain because it had no taxpayer cost.  They can no longer make such a claim.  Last year’s sugar purchase cost the federal government $465 million.  While the U.S. Department of Agriculture projects the program will cost taxpayers at least $1.6 billion over the next ten years, the cost will likely be much more.

CCAGW is the lobbying arm of Citizens Against Government Waste, the nation’s largest taxpayer advocacy group with over one million members and supporters nationwide.  It is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud, mismanagement and abuse in government.


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