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Senior Contributor

Re: Senator Grassley

Congress’ mammoth farm bill restores the imposition of an extra fee on home heating oil, hitting consumers in cold-weather states just as utility costs are spiking.

The fee — two-tenths of a cent on every gallon sold — was tacked on to the end of the 959-page bill, which is winding its way through Capitol Hill. The fee would last for nearly 20 years and would siphon the money to develop equipment that is cheaper, more efficient and safer, and to encourage consumers to update their equipment.

It’s just one of dozens of provisions tucked into the farm bill… Taxpayer groups say the bill could increase spending over the previous version and that it’s crammed with favors for individual lawmakers, such as rules legalizing industrial hemp. …

“The National Oilheat Research Alliance (NORA) has long benefitted low- and middle-class families and small businesses throughout the Northeast and other cold weather states,” Rep. Leonard Lance, New Jersey Republican, said in a statement. “The program improves energy efficiency and lowers heating bills at no cost to the U.S. taxpayer.”

The bill prohibits oil companies from passing the fee on to consumers, but taxpayer advocates said that’s a sham and that the money has to come from consumers.

Not to mention, the dozens of weird little policy provisions you’d never begin to think of thrown in to help grab lawmakers’ support from various regions. Here are some of the ideas for which New York Democrat Chuck Schumer lobbied, like preserving the “wool trust fund.” Yes, that is a thing that exists.

“This gives U.S. wool and fabric manufacturers like Hickey Freeman in Rochester a partial tax refund of duties paid on imports to wool,” said Schumer, who lobbied Senate negotiators to keep the provision in the final agreement.

Imported woolen suits have low tariffs, but imported wool used to make suits in the U.S. have high tariffs.

“So it gave an advantage to foreign clothing makers, particularly in the fine woolen end,” Schumer said.

The Maple Tap Act, another Schumer initiative. It would create a $20 million annual grant program for research and expansion of the maple syrup industry nationally. Schumer predicted some of the research will be conducted by Cornell University.

“This program is going to unleash the untapped potential of New York maple because, after all, the sugar maple is our state tree,” Schumer said.



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