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Waiving Points of Order Against Conference Report on H.R. 2744, Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies...

Location: Washington, DC



Mr. PUTNAM. Mr. Speaker, for the purpose of debate only, I yield the customary 30 minutes to the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. McGovern), pending which I yield myself such time as I may consume. During consideration of this resolution, all time yielded is for the purpose of debate only.

(Mr. PUTNAM asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)

Mr. PUTNAM. Mr. Speaker, House Resolution 520 is a rule providing for consideration of the conference report on H.R. 2744, making appropriations for Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2006.

According to the rule, all points of order against the conference report and against its consideration are waived. The conference report shall be considered as read.

Mr. Speaker, today I am proud to present for consideration the rule for the conference report for agriculture appropriations for fiscal year 2006. I would like to commend Chairman Bonilla, Chairman Lewis, and the entire Appropriations Committee for their hard work this year. The congressional budget is an important tool of Congress, allowing us to establish our priorities for the coming fiscal year.

The agriculture appropriations subcommittee has reported out a bill that provides important resources to ensure that our Nation's farmers and ranchers remain competitive in the 21st century. The legislation enhances our ability to safeguard our food supply and addresses the nutritional needs of children and the most disadvantaged in our country. The bill also works to maintain and build fiscal discipline.

In total, the bill provides $17.1 billion in discretionary resources. This level represents an increase of $258 million, only 1 1/2 percent over the fiscal year 2005-enacted level.

The bill continues our commitment to protecting human health and safety. In an effort to combat harmful pests and disease that threaten American agriculture, the Food Safety and Inspection Service is increased by $20 million over last year for a total of $838 million, an increase of $127 million above the President's request. And APHIS, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, activities are funded at $7 million above last year for a total of $820 million.

I am pleased that the conference report fulfills our commitments to important food and nutrition programs. Child nutrition programs are funded at $12.7 billion, $879 million above last year and $245 million above the President's request. To provide quality nutrition for Women, Infants, and Children, the WIC program is funded at $5.3 billion, $22 million more than last year.

In addition, the conference report supports American farmers, ranchers, and rural areas. The Farm Service Agency salaries and expenses are funded at the President's request of $1 billion, allowing the continued delivery of farm and disaster programs. To unlock much-needed advances in agricultural research and allow American farmers to have the tools necessary to continue to produce a safe and wholesome, affordable food supply, the Agricultural Research Service is funded at $1.266 billion.

USDA's Conservation Observations are increased by $72 million over the President's request, bringing 2006 funding to $840 million, an increase over last year. This will allow farmers and ranchers to achieve important conservation and environment goals, recognizing that farmers and ranchers are the original environmentalists.

This appropriations bill is an example of how Congress can attain fiscal discipline and still fund our necessary programs. The conference report on H.R. 2744 funds programs over the President's budget request, increasing funding in strategic areas, while maintaining fiscal discipline. I am impressed with the work of the conferees, and I am certain the appropriations process this year will serve as a model of how we can achieve responsible and responsive funding simultaneously.

Mr. Speaker, I represent a congressional district in Florida that is among the top in the Nation in production of certain agricultural goods. And I want to personally thank Chairman Bonilla and Chairman Lewis and the agriculture appropriations subcommittee staff for their ongoing commitment to the needs of Florida's agriculture, which has been ravaged now by a number of hurricanes over the past 2 years and a number of invasive plants, pests, and diseases.

I particularly thank Chairman Bonilla for his understanding and diligence in fighting the spread of citrus canker in the groves of my State. I know that the people of Florida deeply appreciate the subcommittee's tireless efforts to assist our State's agriculture economy.

I urge Members to support the rule and the underlying conference report.

Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.


Mr. PUTNAM. Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the gentleman from Massachusetts comments and certainly share his concern about the need to deal with world hunger problems.

Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from Indiana (Mr. Pence), a gentleman who represents a group of people who are doing their own part to fight that. He represents the breadbasket of the world.


Mr. PUTNAM. Mr. Speaker, as always, the gentleman from Massachusetts' rapier wit is as sharp as ever, but in this case misdirected as his faults are with the underlying bill itself and not with the rule.

Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.


Mr. PUTNAM. Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the comments of the speakers on both sides of the aisle. I agree with them that Chairman Bonilla has led a very balanced process as we move agricultural policy in this country into the 21st century. It is a large appropriations bill. It covers a wide array of needs in this Nation, from WIC and child nutrition programs, to the conservation side and all that that entails in terms of making sure that we are not eroding our valuable topsoil, making sure that we have wildlife habitat, and making sure that environmentalists understand that farmers are the true stewards of that land. And frankly, at the root of the bill, the most important service, is to allow American farmers and ranchers to continue to grow the safest, most affordable, most abundant food supply and be able to feed not only our country but the rest of the world as well.

It is a real tribute that there is bipartisan support for this legislation to make sure that we are competitive in the 21st century, that we are compliant with our global trade agreements, that we are continuing to push ahead in fighting the war against hunger, making sure that we continue to fight the war against obesity, and allowing our farmers and ranchers to be competitive.

So it is a testament to the bill, and it is a testament to the authors of that bill on both sides of the aisle.

Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time, and I move the previous question on the resolution.

The previous question was ordered.

The resolution was agreed to.

A motion to reconsider was laid on the table.

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