Congressman Bobby Schilling (IL-17) released the following statement today after the House Agriculture Committee held 14 hours of debate and early this morning approved H.R. 6083, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management (FARRM) Act by a vote of 35-11, with his support:
"As the Ag Committee has been working towards passage of the next farm bill, I've appreciated all the feedback from our area's farmers and producers," Schilling said. "Illinois' 17th District is an agricultural powerhouse, and their input on the needs of the "final three feet' has been invaluable to me as the Committee has worked to produce a farm bill that works for America and provides farmers and producers the tools they need to manage their risk and do what they do best, which is feed our country."
Ag Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (OK-03) and members of the Committee joined Schilling at Carl Sandburg College in Galesburg last March for a field hearing on the area's priorities for the next farm bill. Witnesses at that hearing expressed the importance of developing policy that appreciates and recognizes the risks involved with growing food and fiber. They stressed the need for an effective safety net and a choice of risk management tools to enable farmers to continue producing a stable food supply and competing in a global marketplace.
The five-year FARMM Bill that passed the Committee this morning has a strong crop insurance title, and would save $35 billion in mandatory funding over 10 years. Sixteen billion dollars in savings comes from the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Programs (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, which account for about 80 percent of farm bill funding.
"The SNAP program is vital, and it's important to me that those who are most in need continue to receive help," Schilling said. "I'm grateful that Chairman Lucas and Ranking Member Peterson adopted ideas supported by both Democrats and Republicans to ensure that this farm bill closes loopholes and eliminates waste, fraud, and abuse in SNAP law, such as preventing lottery winners from receiving benefits, while continuing to provide assistance to those that need it. With 8.2 percent unemployment, the more people we can put back to work, the fewer people on programs like SNAP. From day one, I have been focused on relentlessly advocating for polices that help put Americans back to work with good paying jobs.
"With the Ag Committee having passed this bill, it should be brought to the floor to ensure that farmers and producers have the certainty of a five-year farm bill and needy families have the certainty of continued assistance."
At $136.3 billion, 2011 was a record year for U.S. agricultural exports. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, every $1 billion in AG exports provides for 8,400 related jobs for men and women here in America.
What is the Farm Bill? This 12 title bill sets forth policies on commodities, conservation, trade, nutrition, credit, rural development, research, forestry, energy, horticulture, crop insurance and miscellaneous issues.
How much money would the House Agriculture Committees Farm Bill Save? $35 billion ($16 billion from nutrition/SNAP, $14 billion from commodity programs and about $6 billion from conservation).
The Senate Farm Bill would save about $23 billion.
Where does the money go? Over a period of ten years, the Congressional Budget Office has determined that these programs receive $995 billion in budget authority. $772 billion, or 78 percent, goes to food stamps. While called "the Farm Bill", this legislation is really a food and nutrition bill.