CAGW Names Rep. Collin Peterson Porker of the Month | Citizens Against Government Waste

CAGW Names Rep. Collin Peterson Porker of the Month

Press Release

For Immediate Release
February 15, 2007

Daytime contact:Alexa Moutevelis202-467-5318
After hours contact:Tom Finnigan202-253-3852



Washington, D.C.Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) today named House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) Porker of the Month for his hostility toward agriculture policy reform.


Although the primary justification for agriculture policies has always been that they are necessary to protect “small family farmers,” subsidies overwhelmingly go to the largest farmers and agribusinesses.  According to the Environmental Working Group, between 1995 and 2005, the largest 4 percent of farms garnered half of commodity subsidy payments, while the largest 10 percent pulled in 73 percent.  Many of these farmers have net worths exceeding $2 million.  The subsidies drive up land prices and put smaller farmers out of business.  Present farm policy is a case of Robin Hood in reverse that devastates rural communities. 


President Bush’s 2007 farm bill proposal would eliminate subsidy payments to individuals with an adjusted gross income of $200,000 or more.  In truth, the proposal does not go far enough and leaves intact the overall payment limitation of $360,000, which should also be lowered.  Even modest reform is too much for Rep. Peterson, who thinks agriculture would be “better off not having any payment limits at all” (Western Farm Press, 2/7/07).


Farm subsidies raise prices for consumers, encourage farming on environmentally sensitive land, undercut subsistence farmers in developing countries, and invite retaliatory tariffs that hurt U.S. producers of non-subsidized commodities.  The farm program is simply a massive transfer of wealth from taxpayers and consumers to the wealthy, politically-connected producers of a handful of crops.    


Referring to the Doha round of World Trade Organization negotiations, Rep. Peterson said, “There’s pressure on us to change the farm bill because ‘that’s the only way we can get a trade deal.’  Now, I’m sorry, but I’ve had enough of these trade deals.  And unless we can get something good out of it, I don’t give a darn if we get one.” 


Taxpayers, consumers, and the overall economy benefit enormously from the expansion of free trade.  By “we,” Rep. Peterson is probably referring to the sugar beet producers located in his district.  With a well-oiled lobbying machine in Washington, Big Sugar’s strategy has always been to keep its government subsidies and protect itself from international competition.  Import quotas force American consumers to pay two to three times the world market price for sugar, costing about $2 billion annually.  The higher prices have almost destroyed the domestic sugarcane refining industry and forced candy manufacturers to relocate outside the U.S.  In 2005, the sugar lobby nearly sank the Central America Free Trade Agreement even though virtually all other segments of U.S. agriculture supported it.  Rep. Peterson is so dedicated to protecting the sugar and farm subsidy racket that he “told Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns, a Republican, to ‘quit making those speeches’ about the need for ‘wholesale reform’” (Associated Press, 1/20/07).


For supporting corporate welfare and for opposing farm policy reform and free trade in order to protect special interests in his home district, CAGW names Rep. Collin Peterson its February 2007 Porker of the Month.


Citizens Against Government Waste is the nation’s largest nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement in government.  Porker of the Month is a dubious honor given to lawmakers, government officials, and political candidates who have shown a blatant disregard for the interests of taxpayers.

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