House Ag Ranking Member Collin Peterson Voices Party's Opposition to the Proposed 2018 Farm BillWed, 16 May 2018 18:07:12 CDT
Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Collin C. Peterson made the following remarks on the House Floor Wednesday, May 16th during the Chambers' consideration of H.R. 2, the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018:
(As prepared for delivery)
“Mr. Speaker, I rise today in opposition to H.R. 2, the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018.
“H.R. 2 is not a work product that I’m proud of because it’s not one I or my Democratic colleagues had a proper role in producing. More than that though, I’m opposed to H.R. 2 today because it’s simply not good enough for American farmers, consumers or rural advocates.
“H.R. 2 fails our farmers. The bill does not improve the farm safety net programs farmers need to manage a troubled farm economy. It fails to make needed increases to reference prices under the PLC program to address the 52 percent drop in national farm income. It neglects repeated requests to increase funding for trade promotion to help strengthen overseas markets in response to the Administration’s actions on trade and renewable fuels.
“H.R. 2 fails our nation’s hungry. While I agree that there are changes that need to be made to the SNAP program, this is so clearly not the way to do it. The bill cuts more than $23 billion in SNAP benefits and will result in an estimated 2 million Americans unable to get the help they need. Within the nutrition title, the bill turns around and wastes billions the Majority cut from SNAP benefits to create a massive, untested workforce training bureaucracy.
“H.R. 2 fails our conservation goals, reducing the federal funding for our voluntary conservation programs by almost $800 million dollars.
“H.R. 2 fails our next generation. It lacks mandatory funding for scholarships at 1890 land grants. It underfunds our programs for beginning farmers and outreach to socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.
“H.R. 2 fails our energy independence goals. Aside from eliminating the entire Energy title, the bill hobbles renewable energy and energy efficiency efforts in rural communities by eliminating funding for the Rural Energy for America Program.
“H.R. 2 fails the farmers, rural advocates and consumers we’re here to represent on all these fronts, but what’s so incredibly frustrating for me is the failure in the process.
“As I speak today, I refuse to give legitimacy to what has been, in my view, an illegitimate process. I have been through four farm bills: as a Member, as a Chairman, and as a Ranking Member. Each bill had its share of headaches, but all had more common ground than opposition, and in the end, the Agriculture Committee always produced a product we could be proud of because we knew we’d delivered the best deal possible given the circumstances. We’ve always been able to work together for the mutual benefit of farmers, rural advocates, and consumers.
“Prior to my time here, Senators Dole and McGovern carried the mantel-Hubert Humphrey and George Aiken before that. These weren’t ideologues, but they weren’t pushovers either; each knew where his party stood, but each also knew the value of making sure the link between people who grow food and people who buy food was strong.
“Let me be as clear as I can be: breaking up that coalition-ruining a partnership that predates all of us-is a huge mistake. More than that though, the closed and one-sided nature of this process, which I must call out, does not bode well for farm and food legislation to come.
“No party can do this alone. It’s too big a job.
“As Ranking Member on the House Agriculture Committee, I want to and am willing to come back to the table, but only when the Majority has the ability to sit down and figure this out together.
“If folks want to do welfare reform, then it should be done as part of a comprehensive review involving all the committees of jurisdiction and the relevant programs. We should not and cannot ask farmers, rural communities and the hungry to bear the cost.
“I will vote no on H.R. 2, and I urge my colleagues to do so as well.”
Source - The Office of Congressman Collin Peterson
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