HALL SUPPORTS PASSAGE OF FARM BILL AGREEMENT
Rep. Ralph Hall (R-TX/4th) joined a majority in the House of Representatives today in support of a farm bill agreement that provides funding for farm and nutrition programs, such as school lunch and breakfast programs, through fiscal year 2012. The House approved the measure by a vote of 318-106.
"This farm bill is not perfect - but it reflects a compromise agreement that will help our farmers and provide nutrition to our children and most vulnerable citizens," Hall said. "I have talked to farmers in the Fourth District throughout the legislative process, and I am pleased to support this bill on their behalf and on behalf of our children and families."
The Food, Conservation and Energy Act reauthorizes programs providing federal farm support and subsidies, commodity price support, food assistance, agriculture trade and marketing, rural development, and conservation programs, among others. Of the $289 billion over five years, two-thirds will be spent on nutrition programs.
The agreement also provides an overall $1 billion for energy programs, including grants and loan guarantees for construction and retrofitting of biorefineries for the production of advanced biofuels. "Bringing advanced biofuels into production will help us resolve the food versus fuel debate concerning the production of ethanol from corn," Hall said. "We need to reduce America's dependence on foreign oil - but not at the expense of affordable and readily available food for our citizens."
The bill also creates a new disaster assistance program for farmers who lose their crops, livestock or trees and who suffer other losses due to floods, drought or other disasters. Assistance would be based on the level of losses proportional to the level of crop insurance coverage purchased that year.
Other provisions include conservation grants, farm land protection, technology transfer, research and trade provisions. The bill provides a special loan program to assist beginning farmers and ranchers in purchasing a farm or ranch. The agreement provides a low interest rate, reduces down payment requirements, and extends the duration of loans.