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Public Statements

National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. GIBSON. Mr. Chairman, I want to say to our chairman of the Agriculture Committee and to our staff, I deeply appreciate all the work on this farm bill. I am proud to have been associated with it.

I will say to the gentleman from Georgia, who just moments ago cited data from about a decade ago and then a report from 2009, I acknowledge the challenges with the program. However, as the gentleman mentioned, a couple of developments that have occurred are, first of all, implementation that has occurred just several months ago that addressed the points that were made in an IG report, and also the fact that in the underlying language--and I will thank the chairman--we incorporated other measures that deal with transparency and clarification that were talking about unserved areas.

So I would say to the gentleman, and I appreciate him very much, but I want to tell you that this program is really important to districts like mine. The FCC claims that there are up to 19 million Americans who do not have access to high-speed broadband. The place that I represent in upstate New York, we've got many communities that don't have access to high-speed broadband. A program such as this has been helpful and will be helpful going forward.

I want to remind everyone--it is worth pointing out--that this is a loan program that is paid back with interest. This expanding broadband helps us not only with job creation, but it helps us with health care delivery, it helps us with education, and overall quality of life. I know that even in your own State this has been a program that has done some good, certainly needed reform, and has happened, reform has come about.

What I would say to the gentleman is I appreciate his concern for the taxpayer, I share that concern, and believe that we have made significant progress with regard to transparency, efficacy in the program, and want to see us continue this program because we need to move forward and continue to--just as we did with electrification for this country--to see all communities have access to high-speed broadband.

With that, I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. GIBSON. I thank my friend for yielding, and I am honored to join with him in support of this amendment. And I would say to my good friend from Pennsylvania, absolutely, and I believe I speak for my friend Mr. Garamendi as well, we think the program is working very well. We think it can work even better.

We've got land trusts in my area of upstate New York that are highly confident. In fact, you know, I'll tell you that they played a major role in preparing me for this farm bill. I'm thinking of Teri Platchek out in Washington County, and Peter Paden from Columbia County at the Columbia Land Conservancy, and Ned Sullivan and Andy Bickening with the Scenic Hudson, Becky Thornton, Duchess Land Conservancy.

These are folks that are passionate about finding that nexus between agriculture and tourism where conservation plays a key role; and, you know, their insight to me helped me influence this farm bill. They're ready to step up and be more involved. That's going to help.

As my friend from California said, it's going to help us use our money in even a more efficient manner and to reach out more in this program.

So I urge support of this amendment. This only allows States the authority. You know, it really empowers States to make this decision. I think it's a good choice, and let's do it.

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Mr. GIBSON. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

This is a bipartisan amendment addressing some underlying language in the bill pertaining to olive oil advanced by my good friends from California and Georgia who are here today to defend and to advance their olive growers. They are very proud of them.

I just want to say how proud I am of their olive growers, as well, and also to address fraud. I want to also express my commitment to combating fraud as well.

Regrettably, this underlying language misses the mark. In fact, it is going to significantly drive up costs. It is going to cost hundreds, in fact thousands, of jobs across America, including hundreds of jobs in my home State.

I think it is important to focus in on what this underlying language does. We should face the facts that at least at the moment 98 percent of the olive oil that we consume in America is imported from overseas. In fact, we've got hundreds of jobs in New York State that deal with that. But 98 percent of the olive oil is imported. The underlying language will require 100 percent of that 98 percent to be chemical- and taste-tested at the port. Now you have about 5 to 8 percent that's spot checked. We're talking about going to 100 percent. I don't even think the United States Government has the capacity to do that. I certainly would fear if it ended up with the capacity to do that.

Look, the way that we should deal with fraud is strike this language. We should look to the FDA for standards. We did this in New York. We have standards in New York. The olive oil distributors are certainly complying with it. They were part of making it come about. But what we've done in this underlying bill, I want to make sure it is very clear that this is going to drive up costs for all of our consumers, millions of dollars according to the CBO, and we are going to end up crushing jobs.

With that, I want to reserve the balance of my time, Mr. Chairman.

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