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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. CONAWAY. Madam Chairman, I rise in opposition to the gentleman's amendment.

Sugar users and folks who buy it by the ton are not going broke. If you look at Hershey, which is one of the main proponents for changing this policy, in 2007 they made $217 million--I don't begrudge them that; I wish I were a shareholder. In 2012, they made $660 million--a threefold increase in their prices. Their own annual report says that sugar costs went from 54 cents a pound to 37 cents a pound, and that that would not be reflected in their prices because of the way they manage the rest of their business. If the sugar buyers were actually going broke, then that would be reflected in one of the largest sugar users, which is Hershey.

This is about protecting American producers, men and women who get up every morning to fight the fight for American agriculture and grow sugar, process sugar, so that you and I can pick it up off a table free and walk out of a restaurant with it.

The current policy works. Often, if it's not broke, don't fix it. This also fits in the category that if a fellow is down, you don't kick him. The sugar industry is down right now because of a 52 percent decrease in the price of sugar. Let's don't kick them while they're down.

This current policy works. Let's don't fix it, because it's not broken. And the $38 million pro-rated over 10 years is a bargain.

Oppose this amendment.

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Mr. CONAWAY. Mr. Chairman, I stand in strong opposition to this amendment.

One particular troubling issue is the predefinition of ``actively engaged in farming.'' My good colleague should know that this will alter, fundamentally, the normal operations on a farm.

Take two quick examples, a brother and a sister. The sister runs the tractors, plants the crops, harvests the crops; the brother, on the other hand, does all the bookkeeping, files tax returns, works with FSA, arranges the loans at the bank. He would no longer be actively engaged in farming. That makes no sense whatsoever.

The broader spread one, though, is the generational shift in farming operations. As parents and grandparents age, they take less of a physical role in farming operations and hand that off to the younger generation--the folks that my good colleague was speaking to. This redefinition would say that as they age out and quit doing the actual physical labor, and yet their wisdom and knowledge and vast experience has added to the success of those farming operations, they would no longer be considered actively engaged in farming and would be excluded from the program itself. This is wrongheaded. It adds additional regulatory burdens on family farms across this country in an unnecessary manner and doesn't get to what my good colleague is trying to get to.

I would strongly urge my colleagues to reject this amendment and vote ``no'' on the Fortenberry amendment.

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