Johanns Disapproves of House Farm Bill

The USDA Secretary says the House's proposed farm bill shifts costs without making "real savings."

Published on: Jul 13, 2007

Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns says Thursday the proposed farm bill in the House relies on phony savings that shift expenses from one year to the next.

"From what I can determine, they do not appear to be real savings," Johanns told reporters.

The chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, Minnesota Democrat Collin Peterson, says the proposal was in line with budget rules.

Specifically, Johanns says the farm bill proposal shifts part of direct and other payments from one year to another, hiding the cost.

"It's not a savings at all," he says. "Taxpayers are still going to pay the same amount of money."

ohanns says the proposed farm bill also hides the true cost of crop insurance to improve the 10-year cost estimate, by collecting premiums earlier and paying expenses later.

"So on one hand, you've moved receipts in, and on the other hand you've moved expenses out," Johanns says. "The net effect is the same - you're still going to have to deal with these issues."

Peterson, who met with Johanns Thursday, says in a telephone interview that the committee will be making some "real reductions" in the crop insurance program next week.

As to the shifting of expenses from one year to another, Peterson says with a laugh, "We don't deny that."

He says the plan followed budget rules.

"This is a normal thing," Peterson says.

Source: Associated Press