What Paul Ryan Brings to the Farm Bill Debate

DC Dialogue

During his tenure as House Budget Chair Paul Ryan has been an “equal opportunity budget cutter” and treats agriculture the same as other sectors.

Published on: August 17, 2012

Republican presidential nominee Gov. Mitt Romney has teed up Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., as his running mate for this fall’s election.

Days after the official announcement, President Barack Obama was campaigning in Iowa and was quick to point fingers at Ryan for being “one of those leaders of Congress standing in the way” of passing a farm bill.

Many agriculture states such as Iowa and Ohio are up for grabs this fall. Dale Moore, deputy executive director for public policy at the American Farm Bureau Federation, said Ryan’s selection does make the farm bill an interesting footnote this fall and puts some pressure on Ryan when he’s campaigning.

In a radio interview, House Agriculture Committee ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., said it is not just the nutritional title dividing Republican leadership on bringing up the farm bill, but there are also divisions on the Republican side regarding the commodity title and crop insurance including Rep. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and Rep. Ron Kind, R-Wisc., who opposed Peterson’s 2008 Farm bill as well as Ryan.

Peterson said having Ryan elevated to the Republican ticket “probably does not help the situation, because he is not a fan of these farm bills.”

Ryan was likely selected for the Romney ticket for his strong stance on reigning in spending. Ryan is not shy about many of his views about how ag money during his chairmanship of the House Budget Committee. Ryan’s budget proposal last May recommended $30 billion be cut out of farm programs over 10 years by reducing direct payments and by reforming the open-ended nature of crop insurance.

The Obama campaign published a three-page paper is entitled, Romney-Ryan Budget Cuts: Gutting Rural American Economic Security, and includes citations and footnotes.

Ryan’s budget, released in February, but never adopted, would have lowered the crop insurance companies’ rate of return from 14% to 12%, capped companies’ administrative expenses by basing them on 2006 premiums, reduced the premium for catastrophic coverage by lowering reimbursement to crop insurance companies and reducing producers’ premium subsidy by two basis points for all but catastrophic crop insurance, where the subsidy is greater than 50%. The administration did not say how many farmers this last provision would affect.

He also proposed some fundamental shifts for nutrition funding, proposing a change to block-grants program for states to implement for food stamp assistance.

But as Moore stated, Ryan is an “equal opportunity budget cutter.” His suggested cuts to the committees have been expansive and targeted direct payments and crop insurance subsidies, but as Moore commented, “We in agriculture don’t feel he’s someone who is picking on agriculture.”

Many agriculture groups have policies on their books stating they support getting the nation’s fiscal house back in order. And Ryan has attempted to push the envelope on cutting spending.

Ryan does hail from a strong agricultural state of Wisconsin and has a voting record that is palatable to many in the industry too.

In his budget proposals, Ryan has been critical of how profitable farming has been in recent years while the government continues to dish out money to “large, corporate farming operations” instead of family farmers who need it “in times of need,” he states in his official farm bill policy.

He did vote for the disaster bill the House passed before leaving for the August recess.

As for the continued slew of regulations impacting agriculture, Ryan said he is “committed to promoting an environment of economic growth within the agricultural industry.” He voted in favor of legislation which prevents the Environmental Protection Agency from revising standards on dust.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    The Welfare Queens in this country are the 60m rural Americans who live a COMPLETELY subsidized life. Subsidized Water, Sewage, Garbage, telephone, Wireless, Internet, Electricity, Gas, Food, Roads...Billions and Biilons in welfare to the so called rugged individualists. Sarah Palin, Mitch McConnell, Rand Paul, Jim DeMint, dickie Shelby and Sam Brownback, all are from WELFARE STATES that would no longer exist if we ended the state welfare that transfers BILLIONS EVRY YEAR to these lazy slaggards. Want something fiscally responsible? Try this: No State would receive more than 80% of the federal taxes paid by it's citizens in federal dollars paid to or spenyt within, a State. The 20% would be used to pay for the Federal Government. That would mean that states including Kansas, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Mississippi, and Alaska would have to pay for their own state budgets instead of having the Federal Government pay for more than 40% of their State Government Budgets. These Lazy Freeloading right wing crackpots need to get off the federal dole provided by California, New York, Texas, Florida, Massachussetees and Illinois. So either stop taking the dole or STFU.

  2. Anonymous says:

    In response to anonymous' statement about leaving farmers hanging. That is a gross overstatement and an insult to America's farmers. Are we to believe they can't survive without Uncle Sugar's handouts?

  3. Anonymous says:

    As a farmer in the drought sticken state of Oklahoma who makes his living soley from farming I do not understand why we need a new Farm Bill every 4 or 5 years.....perhaps it is simply because we are "told" we need one as the above commentor suggests so it can be politicized to pit one party over the other. I don't need a new Farm Bill nor did I need the last 3 or 4 "New" Farm Bills. As for food assistance....get it out of the Farm Bill, permanently!! Our Federal Government is rapidly growing a new, young generation of white, black and brown recipients that have no intention of working. Before farming I worked 30 years in the city and when I was laid off from my job I took my push mower down the street knocking on doors to see if anyone needed their yard mowed. Any of the unemployed been knocking on your door asking to work? So the previous commentor is tying to make everyone believe that farms and ranches will cease to exist without a New Farm Bill? Go have another Latte at Starbucks.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Ryan as a deficit hawk is complete fiction. During the Bush administration, Ryan voted for two Bush tax cuts; two Bush wars; PharmaCare-Part D; TARP bailout for the banks and the Bush stimulus. He put all of these on the American credit card contributing more than 5 trillion dollars to the current deficit. The Senate has passed a disaster aid package as part of a five-year farm bill 64 - 35, but GOP leaders in the House refused to bring that to a vote. Instead, because many Republicans objected to the nearly $80 billion included for the food stamp program (the Senate had cut $4 billion from this, which is for the food assistance programs at schools, Meals on Wheels for Seniors and the Disabled and SNAP. Since Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul thought the $4 billion was not enough, the House Agriculture Committee passed a different version of the 2012 farm bill that cut Food Assistance programs by $16 billion, but it has not been debated or considered by the entire House of Representatives. Floor time has also not been scheduled. The House, at Paul Ryan's and Eric Cantor's urging went home leaving farmer's hanging!!