Part B Amendment No. 6 Offered by Mr. Garrett of New Jersey -- (House of Representatives - July 08, 2009)
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Mr. ELLSWORTH. Mr. Chair, I would like to thank the distinguished chairwoman of the subcommittee for yielding.
I would like to thank her and her colleagues on the Agriculture appropriations subcommittee for not only approving this this year but also last year, and I rise in opposition to the gentleman's amendment.
Mr. Chair, I got home from Afghanistan 2 days ago; and while I was there in the Khost province, I was fortunate enough to visit with the Indiana National Guard. And besides their soldiering duties, some of other things they were doing was helping the Afghanistan agriculture farmers to better their practices of farming in Afghanistan. I would guess that if I asked the 14,000 farmers in Indiana in my district and if Mr. Campbell asked the 132 farmers in his district, according to the 2007 agriculture census, and I have 9,000 farms in my district and Mr. Campbell has 72 farms in his district, according to the same document, that if we asked those farmers in our two respective districts, Should we spend money in Afghanistan on their agriculture or spend it right here in the United States, I'm just going to take a guess that they might say, let's spend some of it here. And that's what this amendment would try to preclude.
I'd like to take this opportunity, as Mr. Campbell said, to defend this program because it was fully funded last year, and I'd ask that it would be funded this year again. This is the Specialty Crops Research, Extension, and Training Center at the Southwest-Purdue Agricultural Center. This project is a collaboration between Purdue University and Vincennes University. It is housed in Vincennes, Indiana. This farmland in Knox County, Indiana, is particularly well suited for growing fresh fruits and vegetables, and the Southwest-Purdue Agricultural Center provides an important resource for farmers to improve crop quality and yields and decrease pesticide use.
The request I submitted to the Appropriations Committee would direct funds, as Mr. Campbell said, to the center for upgrades to their equipment and in personnel. Mr. Chair, they do a lot of great things there. This is critical for conducting research on crops in our area. I also will remind you that where I live in midwest Indiana is within a day's drive of 40 percent of the American population. Indiana is proud. We are proud of our farmers, and we're proud to supply food to the Midwest and across our country. And because approximately 40 percent of the Nation's population live within a day's drive of that area, we think it's extremely important to explore all of the possibilities of that area. And no one does it better than this extension and this agriculture center.
We all know the value of adding fresh fruits and vegetables to our diets, and Americans are struggling right now with obesity and related health issues. Proper diet and nutrition habits are critical components to making this country healthier. New expanded fruit and vegetable production is extremely critical. I think it's important to note that this is not new funding. This is in the USDA's appropriated funds. So who's better to say where this money might be spent, the Congressman who drives the streets and the roads and the highways and on the farms and talks to the farmers and the ranchers in southern Indiana or a bureaucrat sitting in a booth somewhere in Washington, D.C., that says, ``These people get this and these people get that''? I think it's the Congressman and the farmers from Indiana.
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