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Gone Washington: Southerland Cuts $30 Billion in Agriculture funding

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Southerland a top target of state and national Dems, said he'd change Washington but all he's done is gone Washington 

TALLAHASSEE, FL — Tea Partier turned insider Congressman Steve Southerland ran on "reforming" Washington — but instead of fighting for his constituents, he's gone Washington.  In a direct attack against the people he represents, he voted to slash agriculture funding by $30 billion. Congressman Southerland is a top target of state and national Democrats — the DCCC recently announced nearly a million dollar ad buy targeting the vulnerable incumbent, while the FDP has recently launched an aggressive offensive (see here & here).

"Congressman Southerland is a Tea Partier turned insider who said he would change Washington — but all he's done is gone Washington," said Florida Democratic Party spokesman David Bergstein. "He voted to slash $30 billion in agriculture funding — striking directly at the lifeblood of the people and families he was elected to represent — all while taking thousands from corporate special interests like Koch Industries and voting to end medicare as we know it. With national and state Democrats targeting this race, Southerland is in real trouble."

BACKGROUND

Southerland Voted for a Budget with At Least $30 billion in Agriculture Cuts. According to Delta Farm Press, “the plan would cut agriculture spending some $30 billion over the next decade and those writing the next farm bill will have to adhere to those limits.” In addition, “the House Budget committee has specified FY 2013 reconciliations savings for six committees, including the Agriculture Committee to achieve $33.2 billion over 10 years (2012-2022). However, Chairman Ryan’s proposal says the six committees ‘will be responsible for determining how to meet their reconciliation instructions.’” [Delta Farm Press, 3/20/12; Western Farm Press, 3/21/12; H Con Res 112, Vote #151, 3/29/12]

Southerland Voted for the FY2012 Agriculture Bill That Cut Spending for Agriculture program by 13%. In June 2011, Southerland voted for a 13% cut to agriculture programs – one of the most significant in decades. [New York Times, 6/17/11; House Committee on Appropriations Press Release, 6/16/11; H.R. 2112, Vote #459, 6/16/11]

Farmers Are Facing Uncertainty Because of Ryan Budget. “Farmers may face some uncertainty by harvest time as Congress grapples with rewriting the farm bill before it expires in September. On the table are big cuts in federal farm spending […] [The] road might be rougher than [House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas is] letting on, thanks to the House budget road map authored by U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan.” The Ranking Member of the House Agriculture Committee said that the Ryan budget would “guarantee there will be no farm bill this year.” [National Public Radio, 4/9/12; Bloomberg, 3/20/12]

Southerland’s District Received $223 Million in Subsidies. From 1995-2010, Southerland’s district received $223 million in agriculture subsidies including $154 million in commodity subsidies, $23.4 in conservation subsidies and $45.5 million in disaster subsidies. Southerland’s district received 8.8% of subsidies to Florida’s families. [Environmental Working Group, accessed 4/12/124/12/12]

Department of Agriculture Announced Plans to Close USDA Offices in Florida, Including Office in the 2nd District. “The U.S. Department of Agriculture plans to streamline its operations and cut costs, which includes possibly shutting down 10 offices in Florida [...] Under review in Florida are two Animal Plant Health Inspection Service offices in Gainesville and Fort Myers; an Agriculture Research Service Office in Brooksville; six Farm Service Agency offices in Molino, Chipley, Mayo, Jasper, Bronson and Sebring; and a Food and Nutrition office in Fort Lauderdale.” [Orlando Business Journal, 1/10/12]

This quarter, Congressman Steve Southerland accepted $2,000 from corporate special interest Koch Industries.  [Southerland Q1 2012 FEC Report, accessed 4/17/2012]

Last Year, Southerland Voted to End Medicare As We Know It. On April 15, 2011, Southerland voted in support of a budget, which according to the Wall Street Journal, “would essentially end Medicare.” If enacted, this budget would begin affecting millions of seniors almost immediately by increasing the costs on prescription drugs and long-term care. For future beneficiaries, the plan will significantly increase out-of pocket costs for health care, which according to the Congressional Budget Office would more than double under the Republican Plan. [H Con. Res. 34, Vote #277, 4/15/11; Wall Street Journal,4/4/11; National Journal, 6/2/11; CBO, 4/5/11; see also: Los Angeles Times,4/7/11; Congressional Joint Economic Committee, 5/20/11]

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