Livestock Disaster Package Passes After Ag Committee Chairman, Ranking Member Urge PassageThu, 02 Aug 2012 16:35:55 CDT
The House of Representatives voted 223-197 to adopt H.R. 6233, the Livestock Disaster Package. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas and Ranking Member Collin Peterson both took to the House floor to urge passage of the $383-million bill designed to assist farmers and ranchers struggling with drought.
During floor debate, both members said the measure is a stop-gap measure with many flaws, and they would have preferred the House take up the full farm bill that would provide a comprehensive safety net, but there was no chance of that before the summer recess.
“What we are doing is fixing a problem,” Lucas said. “We are backfilling a hole or fixing a deficiency. I’m not here to point fingers; I was elected to fix problems. We have drought. We don’t have a disaster program and I’m here to provide a solution.
“Now, in past years we might just wave our hand and declare this emergency spending. But we tend not to do that anymore, thank goodness. So this bill pays for itself. And not only does it pay for itself, it gives $250-million to debt reduction.
“To me, that sounds like fixing a problem.”
Lucas said he was not pleased with diverting funds budgeted to the EQIP and CSP programs to pay for disaster assistance, but he explained that both programs were still receiving large increases over past years.
“I greatly respect the conservation community, but to hear them say we are destroying conservation programs could not be further from the truth.
He said he hears other people complain this is not a full farm bill and therefore are reluctant to support it.
“My priority remains to get a five-year farm bill on the books and to put those policies into place. But the most pressing business before us today is to provide disaster assistance to those producers impacted by drought conditions who are currently exposed. It is as simple as that. There is a problem out there, let’s fix it.
“Mr. Speaker, let me say again, I am committed to giving certainty to our farmers. I plan to work toward the goal when we get back in September. But we are here today, today, to fix a problem. Let’s do it without partisan bickering. There is a disaster happening out there. Let’s give the tools to our ranchers who are most exposed. The bill is paid for. Let’s do what the American sent us here to do-that’s fix problems.”
Ranking Member Collin Peterson rose to support the bill as well and said he was also very disappointed to be working on a temporary patch to fix a problem when the full farm bill could have easily been brought to the House floor for consideration.
“This brings us to today’s consideration of H.R. 6233. This measure will provide some assistance to a few livestock producers affected by drought conditions across much of the country. Providing assistance to livestock producers - primarily cattle and sheep - is necessary and important, but this is not a comprehensive disaster package. Dairy and specialty crop producers will be left hurting and there is no assistance for pork and poultry producers.
“The Agriculture Committee’s farm bill not only includes the livestock provisions we’re considering today, it also strengthens the farm safety net for a wide range of commodities. A five-year farm bill will do a better job of providing certainty for American agriculture and assistance during this period of drought.”
Peterson said he is also less than enthusiastic about how the disaster bill will be funded, preferring instead the funding in place in the full farm bill, but their hands are tied by the House leadership.
“With that said, I do recognize the effects the drought is having on our farmers and will vote in favor of H.R. 6233. However, this bill is a sad substitute for what is really needed - long-term farm policy. I will continue to urge my colleagues to bring up the Agriculture Committee’s five-year farm bill to ensure that all producers will have the necessary assistance during times of disaster.
Click on the LISTEN BAR below to hear the statements made by Rep. Lucas and Rep. Peterson.
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