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Farm, Nutrition, and Bioenergy Act of 2007

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

FARM, NUTRITION, AND BIOENERGY ACT OF 2007 -- (House of Representatives - July 26, 2007)


Mr. GOODLATTE. Madam Chairman, I yield myself 5 1/2 minutes.

Madam Chairman, it's a sad day for American agriculture when the Democratic leadership pits America's farmers and ranchers against America's working class. The tax increases included in this bill stand to jeopardize millions of American jobs by raising taxes on companies that do business in the U.S. Not only does this provision cunningly added by the Democrat leadership after the bill left the control of the Agriculture Committee jeopardize American jobs, it stands to violate treaties with other nations and lead to significant ramifications for U.S. companies with operations in other countries. Worst of all, we're not even considering a tax bill; we're considering a farm bill, a farm bill that has been twisted into a partisan pawn.

At the beginning of the week, I stood beside the chairman of the Agriculture Committee to voice my support for this bill that we had worked in a bipartisan fashion to bring to the floor. I had only one caveat, that the offsets not be in the form of tax increases. Not 24 hours before we were to consider this bill on the floor, we were made aware of a tax increase provision that had been added to this language behind closed doors. Unfortunately, all of the good things contained in this bill have been overshadowed by very partisan elements of what should be a bipartisan bill. Today we should be debating the merits of this bill, a bill that was carefully crafted to meet the calls for reform and expand programs such as nutrition and fruits and vegetable programs. But the leadership has decided to take American agriculture out of the debate on the farm bill.

Heading into the reauthorization of the farm bill, Agriculture Committee Republicans anticipated problems with the budget, given the collapse of the baseline projections for the commodity programs. The lack of funding for the nutrition interests further compounded the problem. As the number of nonfarm interests in farm bill funding has grown and the availability of funding dwindled, farm programs have become particularly vulnerable, and the Democratic leadership and the Budget Committee refused to address the needs of a forward-looking farm bill.

From the start, the Agriculture Committee Republicans have made our concerns about funding for this bill very clear. When the chairman announced his projected farm bill time line on May 17, I urged him not to rush the process and find the offsets before promising the money in the farm bill language. Again and again, I, along with my subcommittee ranking members, have implored the committee to slow down, to wait until the money is available before moving ahead.

At the Conservation, Credit, Energy and Rural Development Subcommittee markup on May 22, both subcommittee ranking member FRANK LUCAS and I urged caution in rushing the process.

On May 24, at the Livestock, Dairy and Poultry markup, the message was the same. The subsequent markups on June 6, 7, 15 and 19, the message to the leadership of this committee was the same; slow down and find the money. We were consistently told the money would be made available, and we were consistently denied any further information.

It would be disingenuous for my Agriculture Committee Democrat colleagues to claim our objections are at all new or recently conceived. We have worked in a bipartisan fashion throughout this process and had the opportunity to take a bipartisan product of the committee to the floor. But our work has been undermined by the addition of tax increases without consultation, review or due process to cover the extra costs of the bill.

Despite repeated assurances that the $4 billion in offsets would not come from tax increases, here we are, looking at tax increases as a funding mechanism of choice employed by the Democratic leadership.

Moreover, to insinuate that Democrats were made to do anything by the Republicans' opposition to revisions that would directly impact U.S. jobs is preposterous. The Democrats and the Democrats alone are solely responsible for any modifications made to this bill after it left the Agriculture Committee.

Because the Democrat leadership won't invest in American agriculture, they're calling for increased taxes to pick up the tab to fund our domestic priorities by increasing taxes on companies that provide millions of Americans with good jobs and stimulate economic growth.

I anticipate this tax increase will likely be the first of many needed to fund the priorities that bulge between the majority's budgets.

Rural America is served best when we work together in a bipartisan fashion. With passage of this rule, partisanship invades rural America and destroys bipartisan support for the underlying legislation.

I want to be clear, I support the farm bill. I do not support the nonagriculture, non-Agriculture Committee approved tax increase that has been shamefully attached to this legislation.

Prior to the announcement of this tax increase, it was clear that the administration, which has opposed this bipartisan effort, it was clear that a veto threat was headed our way.

A bipartisan farm bill without this tax increase would have produced a veto-proof majority and would have sent this farm bill soaring into the negotiations with the Senate. Now this farm bill will not be an effective product to move American agriculture forward.

I urge my colleagues to reject this legislation.

Madam Chairman, I reserve my time.


Mr. GOODLATTE. Madam Chairman, I yield myself 10 seconds to say to the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee that neither I nor any other Republican on this committee that I know of ever went to him and asked for any, any funds whatsoever, certainly not from a tax increase.

Madam Chairman, at this time it is my pleasure to yield 1 minute to the gentleman from Alabama (Mr. Everett), the distinguished ranking member on the Agriculture Committee.


Mr. GOODLATTE. Madam Chairman, I yield myself the balance of my time.

I would just say, Madam Chairman, that we reach this point in a process that has been going on for about 2 years. It spanned both my chairmanship and the current chairman's chairmanship. It has encompassed a great deal of effort to write a bipartisan farm bill. We have listened to hundreds of farmers. We have received input from thousands of farmers and ranchers and others interested in this legislation.

We address the reform that has been requested in a farm bill. We have addressed the concerns about more funding for fruits and vegetables for nutrition and conservation and renewable fuels. And then to have this tax increase injected into this process after the bill has left the committee is why you have heard every single Member on this side of the aisle speak about how they feel betrayed by this process. It is unfortunate for us, but it is also unfortunate for this farm bill because what happens when it leaves the House, if it passes at all, will be very different than if it passed leaving this House with a veto-proof majority. That opportunity has been lost.

I would say to those on the other side of the aisle we can fix that if we would simply slow down and take a look at the appropriate way to pay for the additional funding that is due this committee because we took a $60 billion cut in the budget. The way to do that is to vote for the motion to recommit that we will offer later on that will say you can have this farm bill that we have all praised and send it back to the committee to look for an appropriate way to do this without pitting American agriculture against American industry by having a tax increase imposed to pay for the things that are in this bill.

That's the appropriate way to proceed here. That would restore the bipartisanship that is needed in this process, and that would restore a good future for this farm bill, which is very much endangered because of the injection of this partisan tax increase that has been laid at our doorstep, the most bipartisan committee in the House of Representatives that has worked so hard and so long. And to be faced with this at the end is wrong. I do not support this legislation.


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