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Public Statements

Making Appropriations For Agriculture, Rural Development, Food And Drug Administration And Related Agencies Programs For The Fiscal Year Ending September 30, 2010 - Conference Report

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, D.C.

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Mr. KOHL. Mr. President, I rise in support of the conference report on H.R. 2997, the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act for 2010.

This bill includes total spending of $121.1 billion. Of the total, $97.8 billion is for mandatory programs, and $23.3 billion is for discretionary programs. The discretionary spending in this bill is an increase of $2.7 billion and is within our 302(b) allocation.

This bill funds a range of programs that help improve the lives of Americans every day.

It provides more resources for food and drug safety.

It delivers low-income housing and supports rural communities who need sanitary water systems.

It fully funds the WIC, SNAP, School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs. It expands the Commodity Supplemental Food Program and the Child and Adult Care Feeding Program.

It significantly expands the McGovern-Dole Program so children in developing countries can get school meals. Often, that is the only reason they come to school.

It bolsters agricultural research so we can produce better crops and feed more people more efficiently.

It funds conservation, community development, animal and plant health, trade, and much more.

We worked closely with our counterparts in the House to come to satisfactory agreements on issues about which we had differing views.

We included compromise language on the reimportation of Chinese poultry, setting up a stringent system to protect public health. This language meets all of our WTO requirements and has been endorsed by all sides.

We included critical funds to aid the dairy sector which is suffering from historically low prices. Some will be used to purchase dairy products for food pantries, and the rest will provide direct relief to producers.

We fund development of new food aid products to provide higher nutritional content for food aid recipients; most of these products have not been updated for nearly two decades.

Overall, this bill is properly balanced. It provides appropriate funding and direction for the Department of Agriculture, FDA and other agencies. We worked to ensure that the concerns of all Senators were addressed, and I believe we have been successful.

I am very encouraged by the process that brought us to this point, and I am grateful to my ranking member, Senator Brownback, and others who have been instrumental in its success.

I strongly encourage all Senators to support this bill.

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Mr. KOHL. Mr. President, it has been brought to my attention that the Congressionally directed spending items table in the statement of managers to accompany the Fiscal Year 2010 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act mistakenly listed Senator Hutchison as requesting funding for the medicinal and Bioactive Crops research project through the Agricultural Research Service. Additionally, Senator Hutchison's name was mistakenly omitted from the table for the Grain Sorghum research project through the National institute for Food and Agriculture and the Range Revegetation for Ft. Hood conservation project through the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

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Mr. KOHL. Let me start by saying that I appreciate the guidance and input I have received from my California colleague throughout this process.

The bill before us provides $290 million to the Secretary under broad authorities to assist our Nation's dairy farmers. The conference report does not direct any form this assistance shall take--an approach that was the result of a hard-fought negotiation with the House. Many members would have preferred to distribute this assistance through the MILC program formula. In fact, I must admit that such an outcome would have been my preference since programs such as MILC would greatly benefit my farmers in Wisconsin. But I knew that dairy farmers all across the country are suffering and an approach couched in inherently regional terms would not meet the test for national acceptance.

I understand the MILC program would impose limitations difficult for some regions to accept, and for that reason a more general authorization was employed to provide greater regional fairness in the distribution of assistance. My understanding is that the Secretary has three main goals in mind in administering this assistance: No. 1, the payments must be directed to actual dairy farmers, No. 2, the payments must go out as quickly as possible, and No. 3, the payments must reflect as much regional equity and fairness as possible. I agree with these three principles and trust that the Secretary will carry out this assistance in that fashion.

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