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Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 - Conference Report

Floor Speech

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Location: Washington, DC


FOOD, CONSERVATION, AND ENERGY ACT OF 2008--CONFERENCE REPORT -- (Senate - May 15, 2008)

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Mr. GRASSLEY. Madam President, with today's passage of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, we have taken a step in the right direction for rural America after well over a year of work on this bill. This legislation will result in new opportunities for U.S. farmers, rural business owners, and those who require food assistance during a time of rising food prices. I am pleased that the Senate has finally voted in favor of its implementation.

None of this would have been possible without the leadership of our chairman and ranking member on the Senate Agriculture Committee, Senator Harkin and Senator Chambliss. I want to thank both of their staffs and in particular Mark Halverson, majority staff director, and Martha Scott Poindexter, minority staff director, for their hard work and dedication to bring this 5-month conference to a conclusion.

For the first time in the process of writing a farm bill, the tax writing committees were asked to help fund a portion of the spending. I have strong concerns about this, which I have expressed previously. Still, we would not be here today without the hard work and leadership of the chairman of the Finance Committee, Senator Max Baucus. And he is supported by a strong staff. That starts with the Democratic staff director on the Finance Committee, Russ Sullivan, and the deputy staff director, Bill Dauster, as well as his legislative director, Jon Selib, who were each critical to the process. I also want to thank Brandon Willis on his personal staff, Pat Bousilmann on the Senate Finance Committee, and Cathy Koch and Rebecca Baxter on his tax staff. And I want to thank his chief international trade counsel, Demetrios Marantis, as well as the other members of the Democratic trade staff, Darci Vetter, Amber Cottle, Janis Lazda, Chelsea Thomas, and Hun Quach, and three individuals serving on detail to Senator Baucus, Russ Ugone, Ayesha Khanna, and Chuck Kovatch.

Of course, I am grateful for the outstanding effort of my staff as well. First I want to thank Amanda Taylor, my agriculture counsel on my personal staff for her many months and countless hours of dedication and hard work on this bill. I also want to thank my chief tax counsel and deputy staff director, Mark Prater, as well as Elizabeth Paris, my energy and agricultural tax counsel. I am pleased that with their hard work we were able to provide long overdue agricultural tax relief to our nation's farmers. In addition, from my trade staff, Stephen Schaefer, David Johanson, Claudia Poteet, and David Ross, each deserve my thanks for their contributions. I also want to thank John Kalitka, who is on detail to my staff from the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Today's vote is long overdue. The September 2007 deadline of the farm bill has long come and gone. The farm bill hasn't happened as quickly as I would have liked, and we've had multiple extensions. Still, today's vote is critical to giving our agricultural policy a face lift. The U.S. Department of Agriculture should begin to implement these new laws as soon as possible, and I will work hard to oversee the Department in its administration of this important legislation.

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