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Public Statements

Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. BARROW of Georgia. Mr. Chairman, I represent one of the most diverse agricultural areas of the country. Farmers in the 12th District of Georgia grow almost everything you can imagine, fruits and vegetables, including one of the largest blueberry crops in the Nation and the world-famous Vidalia onion, commodities like cotton and corn, pecans and peanuts, chickens and cows.

Georgia is also home to one of the largest container ports in the country. One of the real bright spots of the American economy is that, thanks in large part to the Market Access Program, farmers have been able to expand their exports to foreign markets and ship their crops through the Port of Savannah to thriving markets overseas. These are opportunities that these small businesses probably would not have if it were not for the MAP connections they had.

The people I represent, farmers and nonfarmers alike, understand that growing markets add tremendous value to what farmers grow. The Market Access Program expands our access into larger world markets, and access to these markets is what helps our farmers compete in the global economy. I think that's worth preserving, so I urge my colleagues to oppose this amendment.

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Mr. BARROW of Georgia. I rise in opposition to the amendment. The people I represent value American agriculture and understand that food doesn't grow on grocery store shelves. It takes the hard work and high risk of farmers to get that food to market. I believe all of those farmers are worth supporting.

This amendment will undermine the safety net for many of those farmers, large and small. Many people don't realize it, but farm operations are made up of as many different kinds of farms as people. Different farms have different sizes, different ownership structures, different crop mixes and different equipment, and that diversity makes our domestic farming portfolio strong.

It's often the big guys who act as the hub of a farm community and offer the smaller farmers in the area access to expensive equipment that they could never afford on their own. These are all family farms in the best sense of the word, and they depend on each other for their livelihood.

This amendment effectively ends the safety net for the large family farmer, without whom many of our small family farms couldn't produce. I, therefore, urge my colleagues to oppose the amendment.

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