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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. CRAWFORD. Mr. Chairman, I also rise respectfully in opposition to the gentlelady's amendment.

My district located in the Mississippi Delta region grows nearly half all rice produced in the United States. This amendment jeopardizes the safety net row crop producers in my district depend on to manage risk and stay in business.

Given the fact that price volatility is the primary risk mid-South farmers face, and the cost of production is extremely high, the Price Loss Coverage program is the only viable option to provide producers adequate protection. Leading experts and ag economists at Texas A&M University show the average cost of production for rice is $14.92 per hundredweight. The $14 per hundredweight reference price established in the FARRM Bill is realistic and will not kick in unless the producer experiences a loss.

What is more, CBO projections already take into account the probability of price movements that can impact the overall cost productions of the PLC policy, and U.S. farm policy has come in well under budget projections for at least the last 7 years. This amendment is unnecessary and will do nothing but create more uncertainty for agriculture producers.

The House Agriculture Committee has made a good-faith bipartisan effort to craft a farm bill that reflects a farmer's risk across all regions of the country. This amendment is a step backwards.

With all due respect, I urge my colleagues to oppose the gentlelady's amendment.

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Mr. CRAWFORD. I thank the chairman.

I would just like to respectfully oppose the gentleman's amendment.

Mr. Chair, this amendment would dismantle one of the most effective diplomatic tools available to the United States. Food for Peace promotes the good will of the American people by providing American-grown food supplies to the poorest and most vulnerable populations in the world. This program has been in place for nearly 60 years and is the cornerstone of the United States' diplomatic and humanitarian efforts.

If there are any inefficiencies, as the sponsors of this amendment suggest, then USDA and USAID must be held accountable for them because they coordinate the program's implementation. I reject the idea that direct cash assistance from the Local and Regional Purchase Program, or LRP, is a better way to go because it will simply provide food vouchers used to buy foreign-sourced food. This sounds less like reform and more like a proposal to provide food stamps to the world.

Instead of giving USAID free rein to spend cash however they see fit, Congress must recognize that Food for Peace allows our farmers to serve as ambassadors. As you can see on the sign beside me, the first thing starving people see when they receive a bag of rice--and it likely came from Arkansas--is the stamp of the American flag. We are concerned about what the contents of that bag are. That American flag means something, and we don't want to diminish the brand and the quality of the product contained in that bag.

I respectfully urge my colleagues to reject this amendment.

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Mr. CRAWFORD. I most respectfully oppose the gentleman's amendment.

Mr. Chair, the MAP program has been a critical tool for producers in my district to access foreign markets. The program forms a private-public partnership that shares the cost of overseas marketing and promotional activities.

The current agriculture export forecast for FY13 is estimated to be nearly $140 billion, which smashes our export records. For a country that operates under a net trade deficit, agriculture has been a bright spot and generates a surplus.

Independent studies show that the MAP program is directly responsible for $6.1 billion of these exports. This is a 35 to 1 return on investment.

How many other Federal programs have this type of economic benefit? Not many.

With our trade forecast expected to increase this year, this reinforces the need for valuable programs such as the Market Access Program. I urge my colleagues most respectfully to oppose the amendment.

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Mr. CRAWFORD. I yield myself such time as I may consume.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is just that--a nutrition assistance program--which is designed to provide nutrition assistance to eligible low-income individuals and their families. Personal hygiene items never have been eligible for purchase under a Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program transaction and should never be eligible under SNAP. We should be devoting our scarce resources to providing food to hungry Americans, not personal hygiene items.

I urge my colleagues to join me in the opposition of this amendment and to vote ``no.''

I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. CRAWFORD. Mr. Chairman, I respect the initiative here. I appreciate that. I think that we're kind of wandering into uncharted waters here because we're talking about a farm bill and nutrition title, and this is not, I don't believe, in our purview to authorize the use of nutrition funds to address personal hygiene items, and that's why I have reservations about this.

I appreciate the effort put forth here and totally recognize the value of personal hygiene. I'm a big believer in personal hygiene. I just don't think that it's appropriate for us to address personal hygiene items in the context of nutrition.

For that reason, I would respectfully request a ``no'' vote on this amendment, and I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. CRAWFORD. I thank the gentleman for yielding.

I would just like to say, on behalf of the chairman of the Agriculture Committee, I thank the gentleman from Ohio for bringing this good government amendment before us today. Current law states that a State agency must return unused benefits to the Treasury after a 12-month period of inactivity. The gentleman's amendment simply shortens that time period that a SNAP recipient has to claim their benefits to 60 days.

I urge my colleagues to vote ``yes'' on this commonsense amendment.

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Mr. CRAWFORD. I thank the gentlelady from Tennessee for yielding.

And on behalf of the chairman of the Agriculture Committee, I would like to thank her for bringing this amendment to void the partnership with the Mexican Government that promotes participation in the SNAP program.

We support this amendment, and urge our colleagues to vote ``yes.''

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

Mr. Chairman, I must oppose, with respect, the gentleman's amendment.

The addition of commercial fishing operations, which have traditionally not been recognized in FSA lending programs, unnecessarily extend the limits of an already oversubscribed lender. Commercial fishermen in need of disaster assistance are already able to apply for loans from both Farm Credit and the Small Business Administration.

Mr. Chairman, with that, I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. CRAWFORD. I thank the gentleman from Massachusetts for his input on this.

I continue to oppose the amendment. I certainly sympathize with those affected by disaster. But given the current fiscal environment, it just defies common sense to implement new, duplicative lending programs.

Mr. Chairman, with that, I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. CRAWFORD. I thank the gentleman. I appreciate that.

On behalf of Chairman Lucas, I certainly want to extend my appreciation for the gentleman's work on this issue. If the gentleman will be willing to withdraw his amendment, I have been assured by the chairman that he is more than willing to work with you on this important issue.

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Mr. CRAWFORD. I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Chairman, this amendment would statutorily authorize a pilot program at $500,000. It's my understanding that USDA is already doing this without statutory capability. I appreciate the gentleman's interest in this matter, but there is really no reason to legislate on an issue that the administration has the capability to do.

With that, I reserve the balance of my time.

I yield 2 minutes to the ranking member from Minnesota (Mr. Peterson).

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Mr. CRAWFORD. I thank the chairman.

Farm policy is intended to provide support when needed, based on production. U.S. farms have been forced to become larger to increase efficiency and remain competitive in the global marketplace. Arbitrarily limiting policies ultimately limits the ability of farms to grow and gain efficiencies, thereby penalizing U.S. farmers and putting them at a distinct disadvantage to our global competitors.

Adjusted gross income is different than farm profit. There are a number of expenses that must be covered. In addition to personal expenses, farmers must service debt, given the cost of today's machinery and land can easily reach into the millions.

AGI rules penalize spouses who oftentimes take off-farm jobs to help make ends meet when farmers are struggling with their farm income. An unreasonable AGI means test creates uncertainty for growers and their lenders by creating a ping-pong effect of being eligible one year and ineligible the next, making it difficult or impossible for lenders to measure, with any certainty, the future cash flow of thousands of farm and ranch families in order to make both short and long-term lending decisions.

In short, an unreasonable AGI means test would make U.S. farm policy unpredictable, inequitable and punitive for thousands of American farm and ranch families.

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Mr. CRAWFORD. Mr. Chair, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Chair, first I want to thank the 71 Members from both parties who joined in cosponsoring the bill that is identical to this amendment, H.R. 311, the FUELS Act. That bill also passed the House unanimously last year.

The EPA-mandated spill prevention and containment countermeasure rules require that oil storage facilities with a capacity of over 1,320 gallons make costly infrastructure modification to reduce the possibility of oil spills.

This bill simply changes those standards, makes them considerably more workable. We have 71 cosponsors that agree with me.

I reserve the balance of my time.

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

I want to thank my colleague from Nebraska for joining me in sponsoring this amendment.

Earlier this year, as most of us already know, the EPA violated the privacy rights of producers across the country by releasing the personal information of livestock and poultry producers to various environmental activist groups. This information included names, addresses, phone numbers, GPS coordinates of over 80,000 producers over 30 States, including my home State of Arkansas. It was obtained by the EPA through State environmental quality agencies and released to the environmental groups through FOIA requests.

We all know this story, and I'll be brief, and I will yield such time as my friend from Nebraska (Mr. Terry) will consume.

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Mr. CRAWFORD. I thank the gentleman from Nebraska, and I appreciate his leadership on this as well.

The Crawford-Terry amendment would prevent the EPA from making public the private information of producers, including their names, telephone numbers, addresses, email and physical, GPS coordinates or other identifying location information.

This measure will protect the individual privacy rights of ag producers and allow farm families to live without the threats of harassment and targeting.

I urge adoption of the amendment.

I reserve the balance of my time.

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