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@NCCapitol

Congressional delegation: Don't sequester tobacco buyout money

Posted November 8, 2013

Tobacco field, farmwork

— Members of North Carolina's congressional delegation are lobbying the U.S. Department of Agriculture to head off an attempt to lump federal payments to tobacco farmers into the budget that's subject to across-the-board cuts in January.

The second round of sequestration is set to take effect Jan. 15 unless Congress can reach a new budget deal, but U.S. Sens. Richard Burr and Kay Hagan and U.S. Reps. Mike McIntyre, Renee Ellmers and Richard Hudson maintain that the Tobacco Transition Payment Program should be excluded from the process.

The TTPP is part of a settlement the government reached with tobacco farmers in 2004, when the tobacco quota and price support system was eliminated. The government promised to provide farmers with annual payments through 2014 to ease the transition to the free market.

The North Carolina members of Congress say that, since the TTPP is funded by fees paid by tobacco companies and not by tax revenue, it shouldn't be part of the sequester.

"TTPP was a 10-year commitment to our farmers and their families," the three U.S. House members wrote in a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Sylvia Burwell, the director of the Office of Management and Budget. "USDA has a responsibility to honor its commitment."

"Using sequestration as a mechanism to siphon a portion of these non-tax payments and using them for the purpose of deficit reductions runs counter to Congressional intent," Burr wrote in his own letter to USDA and OMB officials.

North Carolina farmers are owed the largest portion of the $1 billion in 2014 TTPP payments. It's unclear how much of that could be withheld under the sequester.

"It does not matter whether the U.S. government decides to hold hostage all or just a portion of the millions of non-taxpayer dollars owed to North Carolina tobacco farmers, our state's economy and its largest industry – agriculture – will be negatively impacted," Larry Wooten, president of North Carolina Farm Bureau, said in a statement. "We understand the fiscal realities that led to the sequestration of funding for other federal programs, but North Carolina citizens, in good faith, signed these binding contracts with their own government, and many have already factored these payments into their business plans for 2014."

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  • SARCASTICLES Nov 18, 2013

    If the Sequestration hadn't been forced on America by the ODS sufferers as a political fund raising tool, this wouldn't be an issue.

    This is just as crazy as if, say, a bunch of "patriots" had a tantrum to shut down the government, they succeeded, then complained about the results of their "patriotism" by holding a "Rally To Gin Up Fake Outrage" at the WWII Memorial that THEY THEMSELVES closed down by shutting down the US Government.

    You just CAN'T make this stuff up......no wonder these clowns can't win a national election.

  • Zworks Nov 17, 2013

    wildpig777, you have no idea what you're talking about. Not a dime of taxpayer money funded the buyout. There's a user fee, TTPP, paid by tobacco companies and collected through higher price tobacco product sales. Termination or the tobacco program without fair compensation for quota would have decimated the rural areas of NC.

  • itsnotmeiswear Nov 13, 2013

    I hope they feel the same way when it is time for me to collect my social security that was promised.

  • lem07 Nov 12, 2013

    The tobacco transition payment program was funded with big tobacco money and not tax dollars. This should not be subject to sequestration and the government gets their (albeit small) portion on the income tax.

  • Krimson Nov 12, 2013

    Look at the GOP: standing with their hand out, crying for that gov't money. Boo-hoo-hoo! Talk about "entitled"...

  • jackjones2nc Nov 10, 2013

    Instead of wasting time and money on special interest fallout, just DO YOUR JOBS and resolve the budget, eliminating this sequester that's slowing the economy and harming businesses and citizens.

  • wildpig777 Nov 8, 2013

    I personally know farmers that got RICH behind this scheme.

  • wildpig777 Nov 8, 2013

    the tobaccer buyout program --the biggest crock of gov ment welfare perpetuated in the last 50 yrs. supported by both repubs and democrats..... read my font --GOV MENT WELFARE AT IT'S FINEST.

    never have so many tax dollas been given to so few receipants for so little justification.

  • Rebelyell55 Nov 8, 2013

    1. Don't like how someone who most likely ain't even in loop, can change rules on something that is suppose to be a done deal. 2. buy out was too large anyway. (I know the farmer will hate me for that). I say that because the time line was way too long. Now, I know many Farmer hurt from time to time, but, I don't know no poor farmers. 3. I think this late in the game if they'er going to get some money cut. Do it and don't mess around so they know what they got to deal with next year.