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Agricultural Disaster Assistance Act of 2012

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. COSTA. Mr. Speaker, I rise to reluctantly oppose this measure--not because drought relief is not desperately needed in many parts of this country, but because we have a far better vehicle to do this in the form of the farm bill that Chairman Lucas and Ranking Member Peterson have worked so tirelessly to produce, a good, good 5-year farm policy on behalf of American agriculture.

We need to do the job that we were sent here to do. The drought relief package that we are voting on today, I believe, is sadly more about giving the Republican leadership relief when they go back to their districts in August than helping our Nation's farmers, ranchers, and dairymen.

There is no denying that action is needed to offer relief, and we must do that; and hopefully we'll come to an agreement in September. But the best action, I believe, is passing the bipartisan farm bill.

If we were serious about helping agriculture make it through this drought, we would have brought up the bipartisan farm bill, which came out of the United States Senate, passed the House Agriculture Committee by a vote of 35-11, and followed regular order.

The fact is that instead of working on a conference committee, as we should be doing at this time because we certainly have had enough time to do that, we are voting on a patchwork measure that, in my opinion, is more about politics than policy and, more likely than not, will go nowhere in the United States Senate.

The dairymen, poultry producers, and cattle feeders in my district have seen their feed prices skyrocket 30 to 35 percent in the last 6 to 8 weeks. And, yes, we ought to provide relief through the Renewable Fuel Standard.

Bankruptcies are increasing at an alarming rate among the dairy industry in California. When these businesses are already struggling to stay afloat, they look to Congress for leadership. They look to Congress for real action to produce a 5-year farm bill. Drought relief alone is not enough. Lord knows we dealt with a drought in California that was devastating in 2009 and 2010.

Passing a farm bill would give farmers, ranchers, and dairymen the certainty that they need for the next 5 years in a part of the economy that has been doing, generally speaking, fairly well over the last several years. This includes long-term authority for disaster assistance along with all the other support from a farm bill that helps them do their work in the conservation programs, in the EQUIP programs, market-access programs, and in research that is vital to American agriculture.

This bill, sadly, would pit disaster relief against the conservation programs that farmers in my district rely on.

We need real solutions; and that solution, in my opinion, is passing a farm bill--not half-hearted actions to protect our political interests.

My colleagues, we have the time. Let's go to a conference committee and produce a bipartisan farm bill. It's traditionally the most bipartisan thing we do in this Congress.

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