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Public Statements

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

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. BARROW. Mr. Chairman, I rise in opposition to the gentleman's amendment to eliminate storage and handling payments for cotton and peanuts.

I represent a lot of producers of these commodities, and I guess it makes me a little bit more sensitive to why storage and handling is an important part of our agricultural policy and why this amendment could have potentially devastating impacts if allowed to become law.

I believe it's in the best interest of our country to support domestic agriculture. If you think our reliance on foreign oil is a nightmare, imagine what it would be like if we had to rely that much on foreign sources of food and fiber. For that reason, it has been the policy of the Congress for decades to provide a safety net to help protect domestic farmers where prices are low and world markets are unfavorable.

If you represent farm country or if you've ever worked on a farm bill, you have some idea of what a delicate balance it can be to use the different tools at our disposal to craft a law that meets the needs of farmers and consumers. Different commodities have different economies. Prices sometimes swing wildly. Sometimes, even biological differences need to be accounted for.

For example, if peanuts are not stored correctly, they can develop toxicity that renders them not only useless, but dangerous, to the consumer. Storage and handling assistance has been developed as an efficient policy for peanuts because it not only gives the farmer some latitude about how long he can store his crops, but it also improves food safety for the public.

Mr. Chairman, I was on the Ag Committee back in 2008 when we crafted the last farm bill. It's been the law of the land since then and will continue to be until next year. It's the basis on which every farmer has planned during that time. This amendment creates uncertainty for those farmers. It threatens their jobs, and it threatens the domestic production the rest of us depend on.

I believe this amendment is bad policy, and I urge my colleagues to reject it.

With that, I yield back the balance of my time.

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