Dear Friend of Agriculture,
I know that you are someone who cares deeply about issues facing the agriculture industry. As your Representative in Washington, I have a special duty to advocate on behalf of the thousands of Illinois farmers who live and work in Central Illinois. After all, agriculture is not only the backbone of Illinois, but it is the backbone of America.
With 2011 now behind us, I wanted to touch base with you regarding some of the work that I have done to protect and advance the interests of our agriculture community.
During the past year, I made it a priority to stand up to over-regulation and red tape:
- Co-sponsored & Supported HR 1633, the Farm Dust Regulation Prevention Act, which would prohibit the EPA from regulating dust on farms, and I voted in favor of a similar amendment to HR 1
- Co-sponsored & Supported HR 872, the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act, which would ensure that the EPA doesn't regulate pesticides under the Clean Water Act. This would be duplicative, as pesticides are already regulated under FIFRA.
- Passed an amendment to HR 1633, the Farm Dust Regulation Prevention Act, that would require the EPA to take agriculture jobs and the economic impact on the agriculture community into account before issuing new regulations.
- Authored an amendment to prevent the EPA from doing a re-review of the herbicide Atrazine, which has a 50 year history as a safe & effective weed control product. EPA's proposed re-review was without merit and outside their normal regulatory process.
When it came to important issues facing farmers in 2011, I was always willing to stand up and fight for what was right:
- Introduced bi-partisan biodiesel legislation, HR 2238, which would extend the current biodiesel tax incentive for 3 years. This will assist the agriculture community as the biodiesel market continues to develop and help support 23,000 jobs.
- Introduced HR 843, Agricultural Machinery Illumination Safety Act, establishing standards for lighting & marking requirements for agricultural machinery, ensuring farmers are safe when transporting product from fields.
- Instrumental in ensuring the passage of Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea, which are vital to our nation's farmers. It's estimated that the Columbia FTA alone will result in a $700 billion increase in U.S. agriculture exports, with corn and soybeans receiving some of the largest increases.
In 2011, I also remained committed to advocating on behalf of the ethanol industry and corn growers:
- Co-authored letter to all House Members, urging them to reject anti-ethanol amendments to the Interior and Environment Appropriations Bill
- Led on ethanol, by co-authoring HR 2231 to put in 53,000 ethanol flex/blender pumps at gas stations nationwide.
- Selected as 2011 Fueling Growth Award Winner, the highest honor presented to Members who support ethanol.
To learn more about my work on behalf of the agriculture community, click here.
Additionally, I have been fighting hard for Congress to pass a long-term and fully funded highway bill. Congress and the president have delayed action on this for too long. Last month, I organized sending a letter to the President with over 110 of my House colleagues urging him to get serious about transportation and infrastructure investments. This is important to the Ag community so that you can move your goods to the marketplace and shipping points with greater ease, as well cut down on delivery time and cost to customers in the U.S. and abroad. As we begin 2012, I am going to keep the pressure on Congress and the president to act as soon as possible.
As a member of the Ways and Means committee, I am front and center in the debate on reforming our tax code to lower taxes for individuals and small businesses. Last year, we held 13 hearings on this topic alone and more are planned for 2012. Unfortunately, in 2011, we saw the return of the death tax, which I believe will have a devastating impact on family farms. I have co-sponsored a bill that would repeal this irresponsible tax.
As we move into 2012, I will continue to work tirelessly on behalf of Illinois farmers. As always, don't hesitate to contact me with any of your questions or concerns.
P.S. I hope you will consider forwarding this email to your friends and colleagues.