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Public Statements

Agricultural Disaster Assistance Act of 2012

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. COSTA. This is the final amendment to the bill. It will not kill the bill or send it back to committee. I repeat--it will not kill the bill nor will it send it back to committee. If adopted, however, the bill will immediately be amended and proceed under final passage.

In the Republicans' rush to legislate, they have missed some important pieces that the motion to recommit would address.

First, the bill, H.R. 6233, the Agricultural Disaster Assistance Act of 2012, allows disaster payments to go to corporations incorporated under State law, but there is nothing in the bill to prevent these corporations from being wholly-owned subsidiaries of foreign corporations.

Under current law, for much of the farm safety net, foreign corporations--defined under current law as to where more than 10 percent of the beneficial ownership is held by a non-U.S. citizen--cannot receive farm payments. This bill fails to do that.

The farm bill we passed in committee addressed the current law. It passed by a bipartisan vote of 35-11. It includes the same provisions that are in this disaster package. It also ensures that payments do not go to foreign corporations.

This motion to recommit fixes that.

Additionally, under current law, there is a provision to prevent duplicative payments from being made to producers under disaster programs, in other words, double-dipping. This provision was included to prevent producers from collecting payments from multiple programs for the same disaster. We want to treat those people fairly under this disaster, but we don't want people receiving double-dipping payments.

Again, in the Republicans' rush to legislate, the provision that ensures against duplicative payments and double-dipping somehow missed the boat.

This motion to recommit fixes that oversight as well.

Finally and more importantly, the motion to recommit also gives every Member here an opportunity to take a position on what ironically, I think, could be called the elephant in the room, and that is whether or not the House is going to consider a 5-year farm bill to provide certainty and security to rural America and its agriculture economy.

The motion to recommit expresses the sense of the House that a 5-year farm safety net is far better for certainty and security for farmers and farm families than this bill or even a short-term extension is. After all, the farm bill is traditionally one of the most bipartisan things we do around here.

In a statement regarding the underlying bill, a broad-based coalition of farm organizations said that they would:

support finding a path forward to reaching an agreement on a new 5-year farm bill before current program authorities expire on September 30.

They go on to say:

We are disappointed that the House Republican leadership has decided to not move forward with the House Agriculture Committee's bill before adjourning for the August recess. The bill would provide the disaster relief for our farm and ranch families needed at this time.

Those organizations among them are the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Corn Growers Association, the National Farmers Union, the National Milk Producers Federation, the United Fresh Produce Association, and Western Growers, to mention but a few.

Members, we have a chance to take a stand. Are you for regular order, or for political messaging? Are you for doing our work, or kicking the can down the road? Should we take up a comprehensive farm bill before September 30, or add this to the growing list of unfinished business to be considered in a lame duck session? I hope not.

All in all, the motion to recommit makes important fixes in the underlying bill, making it consistent with current law regarding the treatment of foreign corporations and protections against duplicative payments, otherwise known as double-dipping. It puts the House on record that we need to consider a 5-year farm bill before the current one expires on September 30. I urge my colleagues to support the motion to recommit.

Traditionally, the farm bill is one of the most bipartisan pieces of legislation that we act on. The bipartisan support was in the Senate and the bipartisan support was in the House Agriculture Committee by a vote of 35-11. We have a crisis, and we ought to properly respond.

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

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