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Public Statements

Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin. Mr. Speaker, I want to thank Chairman LUCAS and Ranking Member PETERSON for their work on this bill. There are some good ideas in here, and we should act on them. Now, I still have serious concerns with this bill. But I'm hopeful that a conference agreement will address these concerns.

Here's what this bill gets right: In some areas, it cuts wasteful spending. It eliminates direct payments. And it consolidates duplicative programs. I want to commend the chairman and the members of the Agriculture Committee for proposing these reforms. These reforms don't go far enough, but I'm hopeful that a conference agreement will limit crop-insurance subsidies to small farmers. We should impose a limitation on the Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) for those receiving crop-insurance subsidies, and I have been given assurances that the House will be able to speak on this issue. I will consider supporting a conference agreement only if it includes an AGI limitation or equivalent reforms.

I will say there's been noticeable improvement in this bill: First, it encourages real reform to our commodity programs. In the past, agricultural interests used the threat of skyrocketing costs under ``permanent law'' to push status quo farm bills through Congress. By eliminating this arbitrary threat, we can continue to reform these programs under a more deliberative process. Second, this bill considers farm programs on their own merits. For far too long, Congress has considered agricultural programs and nutrition programs in conjunction. Both of these programs need to be reformed, and we should evaluate each of them separately--and on their own merits.

I continue to believe we should have a safety net for our farmers. We should help the little guy--the family farm that's in need. We need these AGI limitations to maintain a safety net for small farmers and to ensure that large agribusinesses do not continue to receive taxpayer support.

I want to commend Chairman LUCAS for bringing good ideas to the table. I continue to have concerns about this bill, but am hopeful that a conference agreement can improve it. And if a conference agreement does not improve it, I will vote no on that agreement. I will support the passage of this bill--and will look forward to seeing the changes made in a conference agreement.

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