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Public Statements

Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. ELLISON. Mr. Chairman, I rise in support of the McGovern amendment.

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Mr. Chair, cuts to SNAP will devastate the most vulnerable in our communities.

550,000 Minnesotans rely on SNAP to put food on their tables.

Cuts to SNAP take away benefits for 32,000 Minnesotans.

While the FARRM Bill gives hundreds of billions of dollars to producers and processors at the very top, it balances these benefits on the backs of America's poorest citizens.

These cuts are not just statistics. They are the stories of real people in my District.

Jessica, a single mother whose SNAP benefits are essential in keeping her children clothed, fed, and in school while she takes online classes towards a degree, and works as a housekeeper. She would be living on $47 a month without the help of SNAP.

Justina and her husband, a homeless couple in Minneapolis, are both unable to work due to disability and are expecting a child. Justina relies on SNAP to stay healthy and strong throughout her pregnancy, and could not afford adequate nutrition without the help. Justina's life and the life of her baby depend on this program.

Lashonda, a mother of three who works hard at a minimum wage job and still lives below the poverty line. Without SNAP, she would have to choose between food, heat, and electricity. She depends on the SNAP program to keep the lights and heat on in her small apartment, and without it she could not provide for her family.

SNAP is good policy. SNAP works. SNAP saves lives. Do not cut funding for this program.

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Mr. ELLISON. Mr. Chairman, my amendment is simple. It would simply ask us to learn more. It would ask us to know more than we know now about an important subject affecting our society and, indeed, our whole world.

In fact, my amendment would simply require a study to review climate impacts of the Price Loss Coverage program. I can't understand why we wouldn't want to know the effects of such a program. I think learning more so that we can do better is a good idea.

Climate change is a defining issue of this century. It is negatively impacting our economy, our health, and security. There is an international consensus that climate change is real, is caused and influenced by mankind, and is affecting our world in a negative way.

Decisions Congress makes on this day, Mr. Chairman, in this farm bill, in fact, will have a direct impact on greenhouse gas emissions in the United States; and, of course, this world doesn't know the borders that these nations do, so it will affect the entire globe.

Agriculture does contribute to climate change. In fact, 8 percent of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions come from agriculture. Agriculture also brings great gains to humanity as well.

We need to understand what greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture mean so that we can formulate better policy and utilize better technology. The emissions from agriculture result from fertilizer application, livestock, land use, soil management, farm equipment, and rice production.

The new Price Loss Coverage program provides farmers raising major crops with subsidies if the crop prices drop below current historic levels. Farmers are already plowing up marginal lands and native grasslands in response to record crop prices and crop insurance subsidies; 23 million acres of natural land were plowed up between 2008 and 2011. Almost 20 million of these were corn, soybeans, and wheat alone.

The Price Loss Coverage program will further incentivize increased crop production.

Converting land to cropland releases millions of tons of CO2 in the United States every year. Converting more land to agriculture will increase greenhouse gas emissions. But, Mr. Chairman, we don't know how much, we don't know the extent, we don't know the effects. It is important that we do know so that we can incentivize more green-friendly agriculture production methods so that we can know the impact in our world, and we can know why it is important to take action now in this farm bill today.

A study shouldn't harm anybody, and I urge support for this amendment.

I reserve the balance of my time.

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