Members of a coalition to oppose a lame duck farm bill on Monday hosted a press conference to explain their position, saying "savings" of the bill aren't really savings.
"The version of the Farm Bill currently being considered by Congress has been projected by the Congressional Budget Office to cost taxpayers as much as $970 billion over the next ten years," said Council for Citizens Against Government Waste President Tom Schatz. "If history is any indication, that estimate is almost surely too low. The CBO's estimates for the 2002 Farm Bill and the 2008 Farm Bill were low by a total of more than $400 billion. Its savings over current law, estimated by CBO to total $35 billion in the coming decade, represent just 3% of projected Farm Bill outlays."
Although fiscal concerns led the discussion, the groups also say that programs included in the bill are "outdated, wasteful, and often silly" and subsidies and quotas distort food markets and pay "prosperous, industrial-scale farmers."
Some of the programs on the CCAGW laundry list are the Market Access Program, Sugar Program and Dairy Market Stabilization Program.
"Left intact is the absurd Market Access Program, which could more accurately go by the name Corporate Welfare Access Program," CCAGW says. "MAP hands out taxpayer dollars in the form of advertising subsidies to successful fims to help them promote their wares abroad."
CCAGW says both the dairy program and the sugar program will inflate the prices of both commodities.
Many of the groups presenting at Monday's conference also submitted a letter to Congress urging them to avoid including the farm bill in fiscal cliff talks.
"It is the height of fiscal irresponsibility to include a five-year reauthorization of agricultural programs as part of a deficit reduction package to avert the so called fiscal cliff," the groups wrote. "That speculative $35 billion in savings coming from the nearly $1 trillion Farm Bill under consideration is likely a budgetary mirage that is really deficit spending."
The groups cited figures from the Congressional Budget Office, which estimate that projected savings from the 2012 Farm Bill will occur in the five years after expiration.
"Only in Washington can a more than 500-page, $1 trillion bill be called deficit reduction and slapped onto legislation to deal with the real budgetary challenges of sequestration and tax hikes," the group's letter concluded.
Signatories included American Commitment, Americans for Prosperity, Americans for Tax Reform, Competitive Enterprise Institute, Cost of Government Center, Council for Citizens Against Government Waste, FreedomWorks, National Taxpayers Union, R Street, Taxpayers for Common Sense and the Taxpayers Protection Alliance.