FARM, NUTRITION, AND BIOENERGY ACT OF 2007 -- (House of Representatives - July 26, 2007)
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Mr. BACA. Madam Chairman, I rise in strong support for this farm bill. Let me say that clearly this bill does not increase taxes. As chair of the Subcommittee on Department Operations, Oversight, Nutrition, and Forestry, I want to say that I am especially proud of this farm bill, what it does for the nutrition of minorities, seniors, disabled, single parents and for our veterans.
Right now there are 38 million Americans who do not have enough to eat. Eleven percent of the population are going hungry. Today in the Latino community and the African American community, that rate is double.
This farm bill fights hunger in America by making an historic investment in nutrition. Our nutrition title will benefit over 13 million American families.
Currently the average food stamp recipient receives only $21 a week. That is unacceptable. This farm bill will make food stamps keep up with the cost of living. Gas, health care, housing and grocery bills have gone up, but food stamps haven't kept up. We are going to change that.
This is going to help working families, our disabled, our senior citizens, our veterans and our single parents. Most importantly, it is going to help our children. Fifty percent of food stamp recipients are kids. That is what this farm bill is about: feeding our children; leaving no child behind. This farm bill will ensure that children will have access to fresh fruits and vegetables in all schools by expanding the USDA snack program to all 50 States.
This farm bill ensures that senior citizens and disabled adults have enough to eat by continuing the Commodity Foods Supplemental Program and expanding access to farmers' markets.
What it will also do is help military families. For the first time, this bill exempts military combat pay from being counted against the income of men and women who are fighting for us.
Madam Chairman, I urge my colleagues to vote for this bill. It is an excellent bill that meets needs across America and helps all of us.
We're also going to make it easier for them to handle their paperwork processing by allowing telephone signatures.
And what about our military families? This is the first Farm Bill to exempt Special Military Combat pay from being counted against our military families who are trying to make ends meet while their loved ones are serving in places like Iraq or Afghanistan.
We have fought to ensure that Food Stamps cannot be privatized--and we have taken an extra step in this Farm Bill to remove the stigma in the Food Stamp program.
We are going to eliminate embarrassing coupons, transition everyone to EBT cards and change the name of the program to the Secure Supplemental Nutrition Access Program, or SSNAP.
Now our working families will be able to go to the store, swipe their SSNAP cards and bring food home to their children with dignity.
We also help support our food banks and soup kitchens by giving large increases to The Emergency Food Assistance Program.
The ``TEE-FAP'' not only serves our homeless, but provides life-saving assistance to our families after natural disasters, like Hurricane Katrina.
Simply put, this Farm Bill strengthens our Nutrition safety net like no other firm bill has ever done before!
This farm bill is also historic in its commitment to diversity in Agriculture.
This bill increases agriculture opportunities for underserved communities such as African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, and Asian-Pacific Islanders.
We give $150 million dollars in mandatory funding for outreach to small and socially disadvantaged farmers.
This bill also requires an annual report to Congress to see if our outreach to minority farmers is working.
The Farm Bill also creates an Advisory Board to deal with civil rights violations.
We require that 10 percent of conservation funding go to our small and disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.
The Farm Bill also creates new programs and increases funding for minority serving institutions and tribal colleges.
In addition--we have preserved the Davis-Bacon provision to ensure workers in rural America earn a decent wage.
We have worked hard to create a Reform Farm Bill that includes all of us--farmers, working families, minorities, urban communities, rural America.
This bill is a good bill that will ensure that all Americans get a fair shot.
It makes a historic investment in nutrition and increases opportunities for traditionally underserved communities. I urge my colleagues to support this vital legislation.