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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

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. LUCAS. I thank the gentlelady for yielding.

I too rise in opposition to this amendment. Let's face it. The Wildlife Services plays a critical role in protecting humans from dangers caused by wildlife. The Wildlife Services uses biologically sound and socially----

The CHAIR. The time of the gentlewoman from Wyoming has expired.

Mr. LUCAS. I move to strike the last word.

The CHAIR. The gentleman from Oklahoma is recognized.

Mr. DeFAZIO. Madam Chair, aren't you supposed to alternate sides? That was Republican time.

The CHAIR. The Chair may alternate sides.

Mr. DeFAZIO. I thought you usually did.

The CHAIR. The Chair intends to let the gentleman from Oklahoma finish his statement.

The gentleman from Oklahoma is recognized for 5 minutes.

Mr. LUCAS. Madam Chair, the Wildlife Services' usual biologically sound and socially acceptable methods to resolve these issues when agriculture and industrial production are harmed by wildlife, or public safety is at risk from wildlife.

If you own a pet, you benefit from the Wildlife Services. They reduce rabies in wildlife populations which prevents the spread of that terrible disease to domestic animals and humans.

Every time you get in a car, you benefit from the Wildlife Services. They work to reduce automobile collisions with deer, which affect an average of 29,000 people each year, cause $1 billion in damages.

Every time you fly on a plane, you benefit from the Wildlife Services. They have people working in all 50 States to prevent dangerous aircraft collisions with birds.

How can we forget Captain Sullenberger's heroic landing on the Hudson River after Flight 1549 hit a bird at takeoff? And while we applaud the captain's achievement, there is no question that reducing these dangerous collisions must be a priority in the future.

And the largest portion of the Wildlife Services' budget, 43 percent, is spent on protecting human health and safety. Often Wildlife Services is the first line of defense against health risks involving everything from West Nile virus to avian flu, to Lyme disease. They prevent disease exposure to humans, livestock and wildlife.

And what's more, Wildlife Services is one of the few Federal agencies that requires private sector matching funds on a 1-1 basis. It's unfortunate that there are not more Federal programs as fiscally responsible as the Wildlife Services.

Yet, every year, animal rights groups opposed to the predator control conducted by the joint USDA Wildlife Services programs attempt to eliminate the funding from this vital program. And every year Congress rejects these attempts. That's because the wildlife cause $126 million in livestock losses for producers, field crop losses totaling $619 million, specialty crop losses at $146 million. All told, wildlife causes $12.8 billion in damage every year to natural resources, public infrastructure, private property and agriculture.

Without the predatory management done by Wildlife Services, losses would explode, driving family farms and ranchers out of business. Cutting funding for the Wildlife Services would be both costly and dangerous. Doing so also ignores the proven science behind Wildlife Services work, as well as their commitment to minimizing wildlife mortality.

This amendment's not scientifically sound, and it's certainly not economically minded. I urge my colleagues to oppose it, continue the funding for the Wildlife Services' efforts to protect you, your property, your pets.

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Mr. LUCAS. Madam Chairman, I move to strike the last word.

The CHAIR. The gentleman from Oklahoma is recognized for 5 minutes.

Mr. LUCAS. Madam Chairman, I really kind of thought we were working on the annual agriculture appropriations bill, with the discretionary money, the programs that are handled on a year-to-year basis, but it seems we are going to debate the farm bill. I guess if that is the case, I should be managing it and let me just do it a year early.

The short statement is, like my colleagues Mr. Conaway and Mr. Peterson, I rise in strong opposition to this amendment. This amendment would turn an industry on its head. It would do no good.

My good friend from Arizona has come to the floor and implied this would solve the trade dispute between the United States and Brazil. It would do no such thing. Mr. Flake has called this the Brazilian cotton problem, but the dispute is much more complicated than just cotton and actually involves export programs. This amendment wipes out the safety net established in 2008. For what reason? This is the kind of amendment you get when you have so-called experts offering amendments in areas outside their field of expertise.

This is a devastating amendment. This would throw the cotton market into disarray. We have no assurance, as the ranking member and the General Farm Commodities Subcommittee chairman have noted, no assurance from the Brazilians that if we eliminated the cotton program, as this amendment basically does, that it would make any difference to them.

As my colleagues have noted, we made huge changes in the 2008 farm bill, eliminating step two, changing the GSM program in a way we thought would satisfy the Brazilians. This amendment would circumvent the legislative process in what can only be described as a haphazard way.

Honestly, I really expected this amendment to be thrown out on a point of order because it clearly, clearly would end the countercyclical program for cotton, significantly changes how the repayment program works, eliminates the loan deficiency payments, and eliminates the cotton storage program. Those are major policy changes.

Again, this appropriation bill is 13 percent down. We are almost back to 2006 levels. Anyone who is concerned about what is being spent on the production of agriculture in rural America, take note; we are doing our part today under Mr. Kingston's bill. And when we get to the farm bill, be it next summer in regular order, be it this fall as part of some grandiose budget deficit-debt ceiling agreement, we will make incredibly tough decisions, because we will have to be a big part of addressing the national budgetary issue.

But let us do it in regular order. Let us do it in the farm bill process. Speaker Boehner has said time and time again, a more open process. Look at the appropriations process. We are going to do a farm bill under this open process. All of my good friends here will get to use all of their agricultural expertise in every conceivable way they can. But let's do it in regular order, in the proper fashion, in the proper way.

Again, Madam Chairman, I urge my colleagues to reject this amendment.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. LUCAS. Madam Chairman, I move to strike the last word.

The CHAIR. The gentleman from Oklahoma is recognized for 5 minutes.

Mr. LUCAS. Madam Chairman, I rise in opposition to this amendment. This is clearly an attempt to legislate policy through an appropriation bill, contrary to the intent of regular order, and this is not the way that we should do business.

Arbitrarily changing eligibility requirements for farm programs outside of the farm bill is irresponsible. It seriously undermines farmers' ability to make long-term plans and investments, and it adds a dangerous element of uncertainty to the market. The result would be a reluctance to make investments in equipment and practices that increase productivity.

The process of developing the 2012 farm bill would begin in the Agriculture Committee next week. Our first step will be a comprehensive audit of current farm programs to determine which are working, which are not, and how to best insure that America's farmers and ranchers remain competitive and productive into the 21st century.

Our farm program audits are just the beginning of what will be a very transparent, inclusive, thorough process of developing the 2012 farm bill. During that process, we will be careful to consider how best to stabilize, how to provide stability and certainty to farmers during lean years. Without appropriate risk management tools in place, a few bad seasons could put farming operations out of business permanently.

Proponents of this amendment makes it sound like the Agriculture Committee has done nothing on this issue. That couldn't be farther from the truth. As my colleague has just alluded, in 2008, the Agriculture Committee, under the leadership of my colleague, then-chairman Peterson, meticulously debated the appropriate levels for farm program eligibility. The results were some of the most aggressive reforms in AGI in 2 decades.

Not only did we tighten eligibility, but in the implementation of those rules, USDA allows IRS to verify a farmer's AGI.

In 2012, we will once again review how to efficiently and effectively target farm policy. America's farmers, ranchers and taxpayers deserve an open and accountable policymaking process. This amendment not only precludes a transparent process, but it silences the voices of Americans who would like to contribute to comprehensive discussion of farm policy.

I urge you to oppose this amendment to prevent policy discussions from being shortchanged. Allow us to work through regular order in the open process that will be used in the coming year.

Once again, I oppose the amendment.

I yield back the balance of my time, Madam Chairman.

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Mr. LUCAS. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the last word.

The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman from Oklahoma is recognized for 5 minutes.

Mr. LUCAS. Let me ever so briefly say that I oppose the amendment. It, once again, is the process of cutting funding for the Market Access Program, in effect legislating farm policy through the appropriations process. It is not appropriate under regular order. It should not be occurring. We will consider this, along with other programs, in the 2012 Farm Bill program.

Let me note, I agree with my colleagues. Over the last 25 years MAP has boosted agriculture exports, it has increased American jobs, it has added to rural income. I know we have a lot of discussion these days on creation of jobs, and rightly so. Exports are one of the most surefire ways to increase American jobs. In fact, for every billion dollars in exports, approximately 8,400 jobs are created here at home. In 2010, agricultural exports alone supported nearly 1 million American jobs.

Please oppose the amendment.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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