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Farm, Nutrition, and Bioenergy Act of 2007

Floor Speech

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Location: Washington, DC


FARM, NUTRITION, AND BIOENERGY ACT OF 2007 -- (House of Representatives - July 27, 2007)

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Mr. GOODLATTE. Mr. Chairman, the committee bill makes significant reforms to the Crop Insurance Program. The bill reduced the statutory loss ratio to an actuarially sound 1.0. By doing this, we were able to include a provision by Mr. Neugebauer that makes additional crop insurance available, which has to be paid for, which will lessen need for disaster assistance.

Mr. Neugebauer's provision is similar in many respects to the administration's crop insurance plan. The committee bill increases premiums for the catastrophic level of coverage.

We authorize the USDA to renegotiate the standard reinsurance agreement every 5 years. The committee bill specifically authorizes data mining to ensure compliance with rules of the program. The committee bill also reduces the reimbursement rate by 2 percentage points. These are significant changes that make the program more actuarially sound and make the program more responsible with taxpayer dollars.

Additionally, the committee-passed bill authorized an additional 1 million acres in the GRP land to protect sensitive grasslands in this country. While we all would like more money for many programs, this is a carefully balanced approach. I think we have done a good job of balancing the needs of both commodity producers and those that would like to preserve native grasslands.

I strongly oppose this amendment.

Mr. COOPER. Will the gentleman yield?

Mr. GOODLATTE. I would be happy to yield.

Mr. COOPER. I have the highest respect for the gentleman and for all the members of the Agriculture Committee. I am sure this was not intentional. That's why I am trying to correct the problem.

When I looked into it, 84 percent of the savings that are in the agriculture bill from crop insurance happened only in year 5. Nothing happens in year 1, 2, 3, 4. Year 5 is the year in which the next agriculture bill will be drafted. It's very unlikely that those cuts will ever occur, when 84 percent of them are back-loaded in year 5. So that was my concern about those cuts.

But the larger provision, allowing these collusive discussions and negotiations with the government, surely the gentleman is disturbed by those.

Mr. GOODLATTE. Reclaiming my time from the gentleman, let me just say that these changes are real, they are legitimate, they will be put into effect. The chairman has committed to holding additional hearings and investigation into the matter. We will do that.

But to pull the safety net out from under American farmers and ranchers by doing something in a precipitous fashion is not a good idea.

Therefore, I oppose the amendment.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. GOODLATTE. Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the chairman of the Agriculture Committee, the members of the Agriculture Committee on both sides of the aisle, and the staff of the Agriculture Committee for working in a bipartisan fashion to write a good farm bill.

This farm bill has a lot of things in it I don't like, a lot of things I do. I think the chairman would say the same thing about the bill. But, Mr. Speaker, I cannot support this legislation because of what happened after this bill left the Agriculture Committee and came to this floor with a tax increase added in the middle of the night with no hearings in the Ways and Means Committee and no markup in the Ways and Means Committee.

This is the wrong way to maintain bipartisan comity in this House, and to force the American people and the Members of this House to choose between tax increases and the farm bill that America's farmers and ranchers need.

I yield to the ranking member of the Ways and Means Committee, Mr. McCrery.

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Mr. GOODLATTE. Reclaiming my time, this motion to recommit is very straightforward. It takes out the tax increases in this bill, sends it back to the Agriculture Committee. And we would be delighted to work with the leadership that did not work with us before to find a pay-for that works for this.

We went to the Budget Committee at the start of this process in a bipartisan fashion and pointed out that the reforms in this bill cost money, and asked for that money to be forthcoming. It was not.

Now, based upon previous experience, I would not be at all surprised to see a cameo appearance in a moment from the majority leader saying that, because this bill is sent back to committee to report back promptly, that we're killing the bill. We are doing no such time thing. We are doing what is necessary to make sure that this bill is treated in a bipartisan fashion and that the bill is paid for in a way that adjusts our budget fairly to make sure that agriculture and America's farmers and rangers got treated the way they should have been treated at the outset of this process when $60 billion was lost because of the baseline in agriculture.

And then we're asked to make reforms, many of which I support, but this, mark my words, is a tax increase that is not fair to the American people. It puts pressure on companies investing in this country. It will increase taxes on those workers. It will also call into question the credibility of the United States for future investment in this country if we violate treaties, 58 treaties that we have negotiated. And finally, it will cause retaliation against American investment overseas as well.

So I urge my colleagues to vote for this motion to recommit. Send it back. Do the right thing. Do not put America's workers against America's farmers and ranchers. Support this motion to recommit.

Mr. Speaker, in my time remaining, I would point out that this is a tax increase because the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, when he came to the floor last night, said it was a tax increase. The tax experts I've spoken to say it's a tax increase. Not withstanding what anybody says, it's a tax increase. Don't support it.

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