Congressman Adam H. Putnam (R-Fla.) today announced his strong support for the Farm Bill (HR 2419, The Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008). As a Farm Bill Conferee, Putnam worked with his colleagues to craft the five-year farm policy measure.
"Ensuring the American people have a safe and secure supply of food is one of the most important priorities of this Congress," said Putnam. "This legislation does that while making historic investments in fruit and vegetable production, conservation, nutrition and renewable energy of importance to Florida and our nation.
"Especially important to Florida is this legislation's recognition of the importance of specialty crops, such as fruits and vegetables and plant nurseries, for which Florida ranks second in the nation in production," said Putnam. "For the first time in a Farm Bill, resources are directed toward controlling the diseases and pests that threaten Florida agriculture."
The measure also enhances conservation and it provides increased funding to protect water quality and wildlife habitats. Putnam helped to write the provision for the Cooperative Conservation Program Initiative to coordinate conservation activities between USDA and state and local entities.
"This is by no means a perfect bill. For instance there continues to be too much emphasis on corn-based ethanol," Putnam said. "But it includes important reforms and it encourages additional alternatives, such as cellulosic-based bio fuels."
In addition to bringing more equity for Florida in agricultural policy, the Bill also includes unprecedented reforms in program eligibility requirements, eliminating payments to wealthy non-farm interests, while preserving conservation and disaster eligibility to farmers and ranchers most in need of assistance.
"Taken as a whole this is important legislation to improve the nation's agriculture policy and I am proud to support it."
Since 2001, Putnam has represented Florida's 12th Congressional District, which includes most of Polk County and portions of Hillsborough and Osceola counties. As chairman of the Republican Conference, he is the third ranking member of his party's leadership in the House of Representatives.