(S. 3240) On an amendment to cut funding for a federal farm-product marketing program and bar the agency from spending taxpayer dollars on wine tastings, animal spa products, reality TV shows, or pet food
This vote was on an amendment that would have cut funding for a federal farm-product marketing program and barred the agency from spending taxpayer dollars on wine tastings, animal spa products, reality TV shows, or pet food.
Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) offered the amendment during consideration of a bill that authorizes federal programs that assist farmers and low-income Americans. Sen. Coburn’s amendment targeted the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Market Access Program, which helps promote U.S. agricultural products to potential buyers overseas. Sen. Coburn’s amendment would cut funding for the program by 20 percent to $160 million per year. It also would have prevented the program from spending on a number of promotional activities Sen. Coburn highlighted, such as a “reality TV” program that promotes cotton products in India.
Sen. Coburn argued that the Market Access Program had wasted money on frivolous projects, some of which promoted products that were not made in the United States.
“We spend $2 billion over the next 10 years on market access,” Sen. Coburn said. “(The) American contribution of total world agricultural products is on the decline in spite of these programs, and the waste in these programs – if we look at where the money is spent – is unbelievable.”
Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), who opposed Sen. Coburn’s amendment, argued that the Market Access Program’s activities help promote U.S. exports and, as a result, American jobs.
“The reality for us is that American agricultural exports is one of the few places where we have a trade surplus right now, and we want to continue that,” Sen. Stabenow said. “The current program [Sen. Coburn] is speaking about is all about exports. It is all about jobs. For every $1 invested in this particular market access program, $35 is generated back into economic activity. I think that is a pretty good investment.”
Sen. Coburn’s amendment was defeated by a vote of 30-69. Voting “yea” were 28 Republicans and 2 Democrats. Voting “nay” were 51 Democrats and 18 Republicans. As a result, the Senate defeated the effort to cut funding for a federal farm-product marketing program and bar the agency from spending taxpayer dollars on wine tastings, animal spa products, reality TV shows, or pet food.