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Congressman Bishop Expresses Disappointment with Outcome of 2013 Farm Bill

Statement

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

H.R. 1947, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act (FARRM Act) was killed on the floor of the House of Representatives by a series of "poison pill' amendments. Congressman Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. (D-GA) released a statement regarding the missed opportunity to provide our nation's farmers and ranchers a farm bill with the necessary tools and stability to continue producing the safest, most abundant, and most affordable food and fiber in the world.

"The Farm Bill is not just for farmers. It is for every American. The Farm Bill provides nutrition programs which give healthy school lunches for school children, expectant mothers, and seniors; it provides broadband infrastructure which assists rural entrepreneurs in marketing their products; and it provides for dairy and food programs which affect the price of milk and food and other agricultural products for everyone.

"It goes without saying that those in Rural America deserve the resources to build a solid foundation upon which to develop and enhance the quality of their lives. It was my opinion that the FARRM Act, as it was originally crafted, represented that basic notion. In fact, as of two days ago, I was ready to support this bill on final passage in order to move the process forward to bring the bill to conference with the Senate and produce a better bill.

"Among a number of measures, I was especially pleased that the bill included rural development and agriculture trade programs, the streamlining of environmental regulations, and the expansion of fresh fruits and vegetables for school lunch programs. Additionally, I was quite pleased that the production of many Georgia-based products like cotton and peanuts would be strengthened through the proposed Farm Bill's programs.

"Unfortunately, what many of us feared might happen, did happen. Due to overall reduced budget allocations, the initial draft included $20.5 billion in egregious SNAP cuts (compared to only $4 billion of cuts in the Senate Bill), the program our nation uses to protect and nourish those without sufficient food. While I hoped that those and other troubling issues would have been addressed in conference with the Senate, even more reckless and devastating amendments were added to the bill on the floor, forcing even more drastic and unconscionable cuts to the SNAP program.

"As an American who believes in protecting our nation's vulnerable, as a Christian who believes in the charity of mankind, and as a legislator who believes in supporting reasonable and fiscally responsible policy, I could not, in good conscience, support the end product that was ultimately voted down on the Floor by the full House of Representatives.

"I want to thank Chairman Frank Lucas and Ranking Member Colin Peterson for the tremendous job they did in crafting the FARRM Act, and I look forward to working with my House and Senate colleagues going forward to hammer out a substantive bill that saves taxpayers' money, reduces deficit spending, and provides America the blueprint and resources it needs and deserves from a federal Farm Bill."

H.R. 1947, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act (FARRM Act) failed on a vote of 195 to 234. Congressman Bishop voted against this bill.

BACKGROUND

While Congressman Sanford Bishop was in favor of provisions in the FARRM Act relating to marketing loans, regulatory relief, crop insurance, price support for peanuts, STAX for cotton, streamlining and consolidations of conservation programs, the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQUIP), the Market Access Program (MAP), Food for Peace Act, nutrition programs, beginning farmer and rancher provisions, business loans and grants, dairy programs, broadband infrastructure, community facilities, agriculture research, and forest conservation programs, Congressman Bishop could not vote support the bill's "poison pill' measures making cuts to SNAP.

AMENDMENT #22: This amendment encourages states to perform suspicionless drug testing as a condition for receiving SNAP benefits, thus criminalizing food assistance, placing unnecessary financial burdens on taxpayers and state budgets.

AMENDMENT #102: Would restrict access to SNAP benefits by placing work requirements on individuals regardless of economic environment or access to jobs.

AMENDMENT #103: This amendment would result in lower SNAP benefits for children and other family members in the households of people convicted of such certain offenses, punishing the vulnerable for the crimes of another.

The bill would reduce funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) by $20.5 billion, effectively handicapping our nation's poor by decreasing access to benefits focused on improving a family's nutrition, health, and well-being. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, SNAP is used by 20% of all Georgians (1,970,000 residents). More than 75% of all Georgia SNAP participants are in families with children, almost 25% of all Georgia SNAP participants are in families with elderly or disabled members, and more than 44% of all Georgia SNAP participants are in working families. Almost 50% of those who receive SNAP benefits in Georgia are children.

Furthermore, Moody's Analytics estimates that in a weak economy, $1 in SNAP benefits generates $1.70 in economic activity. In 2012, SNAP benefits pumped about $3.12 billion into Georgia's economy. Cutting the program would not only handicap Georgia's vulnerable families and children but also weaken Georgia's economy.


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