WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) today released the following statement regarding his intent to vote no on the conferenced farm bill in the Senate:
“I congratulate Chairman Lucas for his work on this year’s farm bill. From someone who has had to negotiate a major bill like this through the Congress, it takes time and patience working with colleagues and various stakeholders to get a product, and never do you get everything you would like. Chairman Lucas has worked and fought many months to get to this final point.
“It is crucial that our agricultural industry has the commodity support safety net for America’s farmers and ranchers who provide us with the safest and most abundant food supply in the world. This farm bill contains historic reforms to commodity support programs, moving from direct payments and counter-cyclical payments to an exclusive focus on strengthening crop insurance with new protection for production agriculture from product price declines. The bill also provides funding retroactive to October 2011 for disaster assistance, which is very important for livestock producers who have been hurt by drought conditions over the past few years.
“In 2011 I worked with Chairman Lucas to get the USDA Secretary to approve lowering assessments to allow our livestock producers to conduct emergency grazing on conservation reserve program lands. This helped saved ranchers a tremendous amount of money as they fought drought conditions. I wish the bill could have achieved more regulatory relief for our livestock producers such as eliminating unnecessary segregation of livestock to comply with country of origin labeling requirements and permanent relief from the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration’s unnecessary barriers to livestock sales, which Congress has successfully delayed for two years.
“This bill also achieves billions of dollars in savings, but one area where there is simply not enough savings is in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, otherwise known as food stamps. Of the $956 billion in the farm bill, $756 billion must be spent on food stamps alone over the next ten years. It’s not the fault of this bill, but the fact is that since President Obama has been in office, food stamp enrollment has nearly doubled to now 50 million recipients. The cost of the program has also increased roughly 120 percent since President Obama has been in office.”
During the Senate consideration of the farm bill I offered an amendment, which would have cut $300 billion from the program over 10 years and turned it into a block grant for states to control, but it was not adopted. The House’s farm bill proposal would have cut nearly $40 billion from the program, which is a good start, but the final farm bill we voted on today adopted the Senate’s meager proposed cuts in the program. The continued explosion of entitlement programs is simply unsustainable.
“I support Chairman Lucas’ important reforms to commodity programs for the benefit of our farmers and ranchers in Oklahoma and across the nation; however, I simply cannot support the lack of reforms to entitlement programs that Senate Democrats maintained in the farm bill conference report.”