Congressman Jack Kingston (R/GA-1) today joined with the majority of his colleagues to vote in favor of the "Farm, Nutrition, and Bioenergy Act". The legislation, commonly referred to as the farm bill, extends and reforms farm programs, rural development, agricultural research, and nutrition programs through 2012.
"This bill provides a safety net for family farmers in Georgia and across the nation," Congressman Kingston said. "Like all of us, farmers are feeling the pinch of high gas prices and the high cost of doing business those prices bring. The farm bill will give our farmers the security they need to keep Americans farming and to prevent the importation of fool in the way we import oil."
The bill passed in the House today is the result of more than two years of studies, field hearings and negotiations. It extends and modernizes the farm safety net and provides for the first time reforms to farm payments. It increases transparency and prevents multiple payment eligibility to reduce fraud. In addition, it creates a standing disaster assistance program for crops stricken by natural disasters such as drought or flood.
The farm bill also continues the nation's commitment to homegrown, renewable energy. It includes the first ever energy title in a farm bill based on three prongs - loan guarantees for biorefineries, renewable energy and energy efficiency improvements for individuals farms, and a ground breaking investment in new forms of alternative energy.
"Corn-based ethanol got our foot in the alternative energy door," said Congressman Kingston. "This bill expands programs to include all kinds of cellulosic energy. From agricultural and forestry crops to animal byproducts, Georgia is in a prime position to benefit from this investment. Its dividends will pay ten-fold for national security by getting us off Middle East oil and into a twenty-first century energy plan."
While the farming and energy provisions received broad, bipartisan support, provisions dealing with welfare raised concerns for many, Congressman Kingston included.
"While the welfare provisions of the bill gave me heartburn, I know that had negotiations continued they could have gotten worse," Congressman Kingston said. "It is uncertain how any of the presidential candidates view the farm bill."
The farm bill must now be taken up in the Senate where it is expected to pass with the same bipartisan support. President Bush has threatened to veto the bill but the 318-106 vote in the House represents a veto-proof majority.