Mr. CHAMBLISS. Madam President, I, too, thank my colleagues, Senators WARNER, LANDRIEU, and DURBIN for their strong leadership on this issue. We now have a significant number of Guard and Reserve personnel who are in harm's way, protecting freedom and democracy. It is only right that we address some shortfalls in the way in which these folks are compensated.
In addition to that, we have provided within this budget number for the ability of the authorizing committees to come back and purchase needed equipment from a hardware perspective, as well as to look after the families of our brave guardsmen and reservists.
I think this is a good amendment. I echo what Senator Warner said. I hope we get 100 votes so we can send the right message to all our Guard and Reserve and Active duty personnel that we are concerned about them and we want to make sure we treat them fairly and equitably. This does so.
Mr. CHAMBLISS. Mr. President, it does not seem like all that long ago that efforts were under way to reauthorize the 1996 farm bill. Many of you know that we spent over 2 years listening to ideas and formulating the model for this legislation. I am pleased that I was able to be a part of yet another farm bill that provides planting flexibility, price stability, and allows producers to receive a decent return on their investments.
The Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 is a balanced 6-year farm bill which met specified budget requirements and was adopted by Congress. The farm bill provides an adequate financial safety net in times when prices are depressed. This safety net allows crops to be priced competitively in the domestic and world markets.
The farm bill is less than 1 year old. The United States Department of Agriculture, USDA, is still working to fully implement some of the remaining provisions. However, the actions taken by the distinguished Senator from Iowa during the markup of this budget resolution was an effort to unravel this carefully drafted legislation. I am referring to a provision that was adopted in the Senate Budget Committee which shifts the Senate Agriculture Committee's mandatory spending, totaling $1.4 billion, from agriculture programs, budget function 350, to the Conservation Security Program, budget function 300.
I want to express my strong opposition to this provision as it negates the carefully crafted payment provision during the farm bill. The Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 contains specific limitations on program benefits and adds an adjusted gross income test that makes participants with substantial nonfarm income ineligible for program benefits. In addition, program participants are required to meet detailed eligibility requirements regarding contributions of management and/or labor requirements. My colleague's further efforts to make these limitations even more restrictive only adds additional transitional costs which producers must absorb and creates additional administrative costs for USDA.
As a result of this provision, my distinguished colleague ultimately discriminates against southern crops which are more expensive to produce. Farms in the South tend to be larger than those in the Midwest and other areas of the country where the cost of production is much less. Further restrictions on payment limitations only hurt southern commodity producers.
The farm bill has been debated in the Senate Agriculture Committee, passed by Congress, and signed into law by the President of the United States. This provision reopens the farm billthe farm bill should not be reopened during the budget processthat results in bad farm policy. And it should not be reopened during the appropriations processthat results in bad farm policy. Therefore, I strongly oppose this provision in the Senate budget resolution.