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Motion to Instruct Conferees on H.R. 2419, Food and Energy Security Act of 2007

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Location: Washington, DC


MOTION TO INSTRUCT CONFEREES ON H.R. 2419, FOOD AND ENERGY SECURITY ACT OF 2007 -- (House of Representatives - May 01, 2008)

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Mr. HOLDEN. I thank the gentleman from Oklahoma for yielding me the time.

Mr. Speaker, I say to my friend from Wisconsin and my friend from Oregon that we appreciate their support for the funding for conservation at the House level. I have got to say honestly, though, we wish we would have had your support last July. I also say to my friends, and I mean my friends, that we wish that we could work the will of the House and pass legislation here and send it over to the other body and have them rubber stamp it and send it down to the President and have him sign it, as we have done our work here. But in reality, that is not the way we can operate.

I say to my friend from Wisconsin, who served on the Agriculture Committee, and you know this, to my friend, we do not have partisan disagreements on this committee. My friend from Oklahoma will agree with that. We have regional differences. We have to balance those regional differences and try to figure out a way that those of us on the committee who care strongly about the commodity title are satisfied with the safety net but also realize that there has to be a reform. And those of us who care strongly about the conservation title realize that we need to have increased investment in conservation. You can pair that with energy and nutrition, everything else, but we are here to talk about conservation this afternoon.

I'd say to my friend, sure, we would like to have more money. My father used to always say to me that everybody wants to go to heaven but nobody wants to die. We have to put this together and we have to realize what is possible.

When we debated and discussed this bill in the House of Representatives, we had $13.6 billion in addition to baseline. When we are negotiating in the conference committee, we have $10 billion. So you can see the difference. So everyone had to give and take.

Again, I think when the conferees have done their work, we are going to see significant reform in the commodity title and you're going to see reform in the conservation title. The chairman asked me to make one thing perfectly clear in this motion to instruct. We have consistently said reform would apply to all titles, and we would spread scarce dollars out to more producers.

The conference agreement will do that, and we will fully fund conservation. We believe we have an obligation to do that. But we have limited resources. So we are going to do the best we can, hopefully tonight and tomorrow, to have a fully invested, robust title for conversation.

With that, I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. HOLDEN. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

My friend from Oregon has left the Chamber, but I appreciate him looking out after the farmers in Pennsylvania. But I would just like to remind him that Pennsylvania leads the country in farmland preservation, and we have doubled the investment for farmland preservation in this conference report as we are working it through.

I also would like to remind my friend that not only have we preserved the dairy safety net, and dairy being the number one agriculture industry in Pennsylvania, that is very important; we have a new program that we are working on in the conference to have a feed cost adjustment as the cost of feed goes up, and that will be a great benefit to the farmers in Pennsylvania and in Wisconsin for that as the cost of feed goes up.

Also, we have for specialty crops, the first time, a $1.3 billion investment that will help farmers all across the country, but they will help them in Pennsylvania as well. So I appreciate my friend trying to help me out.

And I would just say to my friend from Wisconsin again, and repeating ourselves, that we are restrained. We were working with $13.6 billion; we now are working with $10 billion. The commodity title has been cut by tens of billions of dollars from the last farm bill. There is significant reform that we are going to accomplish. And the gentleman knows, because he served on the committee, that we have regional differences, and it is difficult to get consensus because of the geographical makeup of the committee.

So we are going to get there and we are going to fund conservation, but I would like to make one last point to the gentleman's comments about capping on conservation programs. We have noticed and discovered recently that there have been significant abuses in the conservation title, where wealthy people have purchased farms with no intention of farming and have become eligible to the tune of millions of dollars for conservation programs. That was not the intent, I don't believe, in any farm bill I ever voted for or the gentleman from Wisconsin voted for or the gentleman from Oklahoma. We never intended that. So the way to get around that is to have caps on that. And not only will you stop the abuses if you put caps on it from millionaires taking advantage of it, you will have more dollars to spread around to more people who are on those waiting lists right now.

My friend, we all wish we could do more. The gentleman from Oklahoma chaired the subcommittee when we began having hearings on it. With the last election, I became the chairman and he is now the ranking member. We are working very closely together. But we have limited resources. We are going to do the best we can, but we need a bill that we can get out of committee, get passed on this floor, passed in the Senate, and sent down to the President. And we are working very hard on that. I believe we are going to get a product that will get the majority of support significantly in this body.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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