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Part B Amendment No. 6 Offered by Mr. Garrett of New Jersey

Location: Washington, DC

Part B Amendment No. 6 Offered by Mr. Garrett of New Jersey -- (House of Representatives - July 08, 2009)


Mr. KINGSTON. I just wanted to say on behalf of the minority members I had planned to oppose this amendment and do believe that this research can be very helpful and know that many of the earmarks that have been in this bill have increased food safety and increased food supply and created jobs along the way and reduced food costs.

And so there are a lot of things that do kind of catch the eye that sometimes there is more to it than you can get out in a quick debate on it. But I do plan to oppose this, and wanted the chairwoman to know that.


Mr. KINGSTON. I thank the gentleman for bringing this amendment to the floor. As one who is very involved in this earmark, I now have the opportunity to discuss it in detail. This is a program that works on future food production and technology by decreasing the cost of production and looking at ways to have some fuel independence. But what I wanted to emphasize to the gentleman, as he doesn't seem to have a problem with the merit of the project as much as the process of directing it to the University of Georgia, and I want to point out that the University of Georgia is a land grant university with one of the oldest agricultural colleges in the country. And they do compete for competitive grants on a regular basis, and they do get competitive grants. When they have put skin in the game, Congress has, in fact, not just for the University of Georgia, but for a lot of universities, put some matching money in it.

Now, in this case, the money is really not matching as the college itself has already put in about $5 million. And they have been working on this over the years, but they have gotten $500,000 from private foundations in 2010 and 2011. They will get $800,000 from private foundations. And then they have State money, and then they have university money in it. So it is not something where the $1 million is a new start-up for a program that is not out there. It is something that they have been going after.

Here is something from the State of Georgia, the Agriculture Energy Innovation Center, which we call GEFA. It is a letter in support of it, and of course, we do have something from the university itself supporting that the goal is in line with what colleges of agriculture and land grant universities do. But that is why the money went to the University of Georgia, and the Tifton campus is where they do much of their agricultural research.

I would invite the gentleman to come down and visit sometime and let me explain why the good people of Arizona should fund something like that in the State of Georgia, because often it is, well, why should everybody in the country support something that is going to a particular State? But when the end product is something that will help the whole Nation, that is what happens.

It is precision agriculture. One of the problems we have right now down on the farm is that you've got a lot of groups who are saying, All right, you're causing too much pollution. You're overfertilizing. You're using too much energy.

So, what we have here is a land grant university addressing those very issues which will not be proprietary in their results. It will be something that is shared throughout the Nation for other farmers to say, Now, look, here is how you can do it using high technology, using precision agriculture, saving lots of money and utilize those techniques all over the country.

With that, I will reserve the balance of my time.


Mr. KINGSTON. Mr. Chairman, for many years the funding level for broadband programs or Rural Loan Program was handled by the Rural Utility Service in the Department of Agriculture. That funding was about $400 million. With the stimulus package that we passed in February, $790 billion package, there was about $7 billion for broadband grants and loan programs.

Two and a half billion of that money went to the Department of Agriculture, and the rest went to a brand-new program which really did the same thing and duplicated what is done in the Department of Agriculture. It all should have gone there. But if you think about a program going from 400 million to about 7 billion, that's not a plus-up. That's winning the lottery.

Now, I can only focus on $2.5 trillion, and you can't even do that because that's already in the stimulus bill already passed into law, but we can't focus on the $400 million.

What this amendment does, and frankly if I could have offered a cleaner amendment, I would have just had a straight cut of the $400 million. But what this does, it is similar; it says you can't use the $400 million that is in this until we have used the $2.5 billion that has already been passed into law.

The reason why that is important is when the stimulus bill was passed, there was so much talk about we are going to use this money immediately, shovel-ready projects, jobs will be created. And as we know, that was when the unemployment level was 8 percent and now it is nearly 10 percent. It has not stopped the bleed and job loss. But the fact is that $2.5 billion is still sitting there, and yet we are coming along now and giving another $400 million.

What this amendment says is we can't use the $400 million until the $2.5 billion is paid down. I urge support of the amendment.

I reserve the balance of my time.


Mr. KINGSTON. Mr. Chairman, I want to say to my friend, the chairwoman of the committee, that is a very eloquent argument for the use of a broadband loan program, but it has nothing to do with this amendment because the broadband loan program is not under trial here.

But let me explain it this way to the Members who are not on the committee. I love going to Ryan's, and they probably have Ryan's in Connecticut, but Ryan's is one of those all-you-can-eat buffets. You go through the line and there is fried chicken and there is fried fish, and fried catfish, probably imported, who knows? There are all kinds of vegetables and desserts. You go through and you fill your plate up, and then you are allowed for the $8 price to go back and get some more food.

Well, let's just think going through the line was the stimulus program, Mr. Chairman. We filled up our plates, and I often found myself as a father of four saying to my kids, you can't go get more food until you finish what is on your plate. It just makes sense. Go ahead and eat the four pieces of fried chicken that you got before you go and grab another one that you don't have and you don't need. That is all this amendment is. It is not a trial of broadband. Broadband is funded by $2.5 billion under the RUS in the USDA under existing law, period. So $2.5 billion.

And all I am saying to the oftentimes gluttonous government here in Washington, D.C., is, don't go back through the buffet line until you have consumed what you've got. And when you have emptied that plate, then you can go back and get that fifth piece of fried chicken in the form of $400 million for broadband loans. At that point I don't know who we will be loaning the money to because, as I said earlier, there is another $3.5 billion in another program in another department. But that, too, is a matter of law, and that is not under scrutiny either.

The only thing I am saying is what I have said to my four children over the years when we would go to the Ryan buffet: Don't get more food on your plate until you finish what you've got. I urge support of this.

I reserve the balance of my time.


Mr. KINGSTON. Let me say this, representing a very rural district, a district where you can't get cell phone coverage, and a lot of the wireless technology is in already, I support what is going on. I agree with the chairman; it would have been nice for all of the money to go into RUS and not the Department of Commerce because it was an existing infrastructure for making this loan program.


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