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Public Statements

Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. Chairman, and to my good friend from Texas, I hear what you are saying. But I have been around here long enough to realize that next year never comes. The next farm bill that addresses comprehensive reform never happens.

I commend the gentleman from Oregon for offering this amendment and trying to begin the process now, because I know how difficult it is.

In fact, earlier today I offered an amendment, a very straightforward amendment, that would end a new American taxpayer subsidy program to the tune of $150 million a year that is now going to Brazilian cotton agribusinesses, and it was defeated on the floor. That just shows you what we have gotten into with these outdated farm programs and the institutional interests and the special interests that maintain the status quo.

These large taxpayer subsidies going to a few very large agribusinesses have got to end. They are not fiscally responsible, they are not responsible to the American taxpayer, they are not helping family farmers throughout the country, they are driving up land prices, leading to greater consolidation of production in agriculture making it very difficult for new beginning farmers to enter the occupation. From the State of Wisconsin, where the average farmer's age today is 58 years old, that's a pretty serious topic for the new generation of farmers taking over these farm operations.

This is difficult, I understand. There are built-in special interests fighting reform and maintaining the status quo. But this also has to be on the table when it comes to serious budget deficit reduction. It is distorting the marketplace, and it's distorting trade policy. And there will be more successful WTO challenges against our farm programs unless we have the institutional will to change them.

I encourage support for my friend's amendment.


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