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Public Statements

Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2012

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. PETERSON. Mr. Chairman, you know, this is kind of a surreal debate because I don't think we're talking about the real issue here. You know, the cotton program isn't perfect. A lot of the programs that we have in the Agriculture Committee aren't perfect. Freedom to Farm, it was passed in '96. It got us into some of these problems. I opposed. It saved a little bit of money, and then we ended up spending 10 times as much money bailing people out when it collapsed. So you have got to be careful what you are doing.

But the problem here is, we're arguing about something that no longer exists. This program that they sued us under no longer exists. We have fixed it two or three times. We tried to address this. It was never good enough for the Brazilians. But we made some changes, and we made some more changes, and then we made some more changes in the 2008 farm bill. It's still not good enough for them.

Cotton went through some very difficult times. I don't have any cotton in my district. This is not a parochial issue for me. But if they wouldn't have had that safety net, we would have been out of the cotton business. But what was going on at the same time? We had Brazil using government money to increase cotton production in Brazil. And this is something that isn't considered in the WTO because we are such geniuses that we agreed to this agreement that tied our hands and gave our competitors the ability to eat our lunch. And that's what's going on.

You know, JBS, which just took over a big part of the livestock industry in this country, is financed by the Brazilian Government. They own 30 percent of JBS. Nobody complains about that. The Brazilian Government created most of this competition that collapsed the cotton prices worldwide.

And then we agreed to let China into the WTO, and they promised that they weren't going to go into cotton production. We shipped our textile market to China and collapsed all of our textile industry. And what happened? They increased production like crazy. India increased production like crazy. Our cotton prices went down below the cost of production because of these trade agreements that we got involved in. But the way they're structured, there's nothing we can do about it. But they're going to sue us over a little step two program that we now got rid of, trying to keep our people in business.

Now, if you want to ship the whole cotton industry to Brazil and China and India, you are on a good start to doing that. And if you keep on this road, you're going to ship the rest of agriculture to these so-called developing nations that are not developing nations. If you've been to Brazil, in agriculture, they are anything but a developing nation; but they're protected under the rules that we agreed to in this WTO deal.

So is this a perfect solution? No. But we couldn't get the Brazilians to honestly sit down and work this out because they don't want to. They're trying to use this for other reasons, for other advantages in these trade negotiations and so forth. And I don't think we can ever do anything to satisfy them.

So there's more to this than people are talking about here. This is not about saving money. This is about making sure that we can have a safety net in this country so we can maintain production of agriculture in the United States and not ship it all to other countries and not get dependent on foreign countries for our food, like we've become dependent on foreign countries for our energy. That would be the worst thing that could happen to us.

So I just hope people understand all of the different ramifications. This isn't a perfect deal; but for the time being, it's probably the best solution that we can come up with.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. PETERSON. Mr. Chairman, I oppose this amendment, and I want to associate myself with the remarks of Chairman Lucas.

In the 2008 farm bill, we spent a lot of time working through this payment limitation issue. There were a lot of different ideas and a lot of different discussions, and it was not easy. We made significant reforms in this payment limitation area, and as the chairman indicated, we came to a resolution and people are relying on that. We've got a 5-year farm bill. People make decisions not from year to year; they make them in the long term, and it's just not fair to come in and change things in the middle of the stream.

One of the other things we did is we applied the payment limitations to all of the programs, and as I understand this amendment, it only applies to the commodity title. So we're once again going to create a different set of payment limitations for one part of the farm program compared to another.

I don't know exactly what the purpose of this is because the farm programs are not designed to be a welfare program or to pick winners and losers and decide how big a farm is going to be and all that sort of stuff. The purpose of these farm programs is to support production agriculture so we can feed this country and, frankly, feed the world. You read all these stories coming from all over the world that we're worried that we're not going to have enough food to feed all of the increase in population and all that stuff. If you go down this track, you're going to go down a policy that's going to make it very difficult for us to feed the world.

So this is ideology run amok. Some people have problems with the way we've designed this safety net. And I think we could do a better job, but this is just the wrong thing to do. This is too complicated an issue to settle here on the floor in a few minutes of debate. And it's just not fair to the people that have made long-term decisions, have invested a lot of money based on expecting that this farm bill was going to be in this form until September 30, 2012. So I encourage my colleagues to oppose this amendment.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. PETERSON. Mr. Chairman and Members, this is part of the continuing effort to delay the implementation of the Dodd-Frank Act as long as possible. We've seen some other examples of that. This section deals with public reporting swap data.

What people need to understand, the people that are most afraid of the public disclosure are not the people that are using this market. It's the banks. What this is really about and what this end-user debate that's been going on is about more than anything else is that the public disclosure of this information will lower the spreads of the Wall Street banks that do these swaps. That's what's the bottom line of this whole deal.

If the market participants know more, like what we do in the exchange trading and so forth, the margins are going to come down and the profits of these big banks are going to shrink. In fact, some people have said that they think that once this is implemented that it's probably going to reduce the profits of the Wall Street banks 40 percent. And they don't like it, and they want to delay it.

So some would argue that we need more data collection, and I guess that's what you are arguing before this public reporting. I think for some swaps, that is the case, and I will agree with that. But on other swaps, the institutions are already collecting this data. They can go forward with this public reporting. We have the information. There's no reason to delay it. In other cases where we don't have the information, it probably isn't appropriate to delay it.

But the CFTC has the discretion to do this, and it's right in the law. It's on page 328 of the conference report. And we've put in there the criteria to allow them to move ahead with the swaps where we have the data and to delay it where we don't have the data. But what you are trying to do is you are going to delay the whole thing, and all it's going to do is ensure that these profits and these big bonuses that they're paying on Wall Street can go on longer than they need to.

So I don't know any reason why we need to do this. If you read this, they have all the discretion. All of the problems that people brought up with the block trades and these other things that people were concerned about are in there.

And the last thing it says: They have to take into account whether the public disclosure will materially reduce market liquidity. And they are doing that, and they are doing that as we're going through this process. And I believe that at the end of the day, it's going to be fine.

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