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Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act. 2012

Location: Washington, DC



Mr. KIND. Mr. Chairman, I have an amendment at the desk.

The Acting CHAIR. The Clerk will designate the amendment.

The text of the amendment is as follows:

At the end of the bill (before any short title), insert the following new section:

Sec. __. None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to provide payments (or to pay the salaries and expenses of personnel to provide payments) to the Brazil Cotton Institute.

The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman from Wisconsin is recognized for 5 minutes.

Mr. KIND. Mr. Chairman, my amendment is very straightforward, and in a second I'm going to explain it in more detail.

For many, many years now, I and a group of bipartisan Members of this Congress have formed a coalition in an attempt to move farm bill reform forward, to try to end these large taxpayer subsidies that are going to a few, but very large, agribusinesses, subsidies that are not in fact helping family farmers, leading to greater consolidation in production of agriculture, driving up land values, making it more difficult for new beginning farmers to enter agriculture, and subsidies that are not fiscally responsible.

In light of the budget deficits that we're wrestling with, what better time to continue to move in the area of reform under the farm bill with this Agriculture appropriation bill, rather than waiting for the promise or hope that in a year or two in the reauthorization of another farm bill that this institution might finally come around and start making the long overdue changes.

Just to show you how perverted these farm programs have gotten, recently Brazil challenged our own domestic cotton subsidy program and prevailed in the WTO court. Now you would expect our rational response would be to reform our cotton subsidy program, to come into compliance with that WTO decision, to end these subsidies that you really can't justify here to our cotton producers, and we would solve this problem.

But that's not the approach that was taken. In fact, the administration recently set up a new subsidy program that is now going to subsidize Brazil cotton producers.

Let me repeat that. We are spending $147 million a year in order to bribe the Brazilian Government so that they don't enforce the sanctions that they're entitled to now because of our unwillingness to reform our own cotton subsidy program. That is wrong, and that is what my amendment would address. It would prohibit the use of funds through this Agriculture appropriation bill going to this new subsidy program to subsidize the Brazil cotton industry.

It just shows you what a pretzel our farm programs have turned this Congress into because of yet again the unwillingness for us to reform our own domestic title I subsidy programs. The answer to this is not to funnel out another $147 million a year until maybe we address this in the next farm bill, which could end up costing the American taxpayer over a half a billion dollars, when we can make that correction now, reform the domestic program, get out from under the WTO decision, start saving money by not sending $147 million a year to Brazil, and also start saving some money by reforming our own cotton domestic subsidy program.

That's the solution to this. That's something that we can fix tonight, rather than continuing this facade of maintaining these programs that many of us warned in the last farm bill would be challenged, and sure enough they did, and they're prevailing, and now they can apply economic sanctions against us.

So the time to act is now, not waiting for a year or two or whenever we're going to get around to reauthorizing another farm bill; and the time to start saving some real money is this night, by passing the amendment that we're offering. We can save $147 million, we can reform the cotton subsidy program and save more taxpayer dollars, and we have that ability to be fiscally responsible and start making changes tonight.

I know what the argument on the other side will be: wait for the next farm bill; we'll take care of it then. Well, there is a lot that we are moving forward on this year on deficit reduction, and I for one think that the farm bill should also be open for scrutiny for potential savings to reduce our deficit.

But that's not what's being offered tonight in reforming the title I subsidy programs. Instead, most of the deep cuts are coming under the conservation title, the nutrition programs, certain key investments that we have to make to empower our farmers to be good stewards of the land, to reduce sediment and nutrient flows and the impact it has on the quality water supply that we need in this country, the protection of wildlife habitat. In fact, three out of every four farmers applying for conservation funding assistance today are turned away because of inadequacy of funds. That number will only explode because of the deep cuts coming in these other titles of the farm bill.

We have an opportunity to start making some changes under title I, the subsidy program, first by stopping the additional layer of subsidy that's been created where we're starting to subsidize other countries' farmers. Let's start making that change tonight.

I would encourage my colleagues to look closely at this amendment. This is the reasonable response that we should be taking. Let's not defer this decision any further. We can do that. And instead of encouraging any type of trade war or sanctions with Brazil, we should move forward in reforming the cotton subsidy program starting tonight.

With that, I yield back the balance of my time and ask my colleagues to support this amendment.

Mr. CONAWAY. Mr. Chairman, I rise in opposition to the amendment.

The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman from Texas is recognized for 5 minutes.

Mr. CONAWAY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

My colleague is very passionate, but he is also very wrong. This money does not go to Brazilian farmers. That's illegal for us to do that. What it does do, it does go to an institute that promotes Brazilian agricultural production. It may be a fine line to distinguish there, but it's inflammatory to say it's going to Brazilian farmers, that we're doing that, and he knows it and it is wrong, but it is a payment. It's a payment negotiated by the Obama administration in reaction to a loss at the WTO in order to buy time so that a trade war with our 10th largest trading partner in the world doesn't erupt that has actually nothing to do with ag protection.

The trade war that is being prevented, over $800 million worth of exports to Brazil, protects a broad variety of nonagricultural industries in this agreement. This buys us time until the 2012 farm bill could get done. We cannot tonight nor should we tonight delve into a very complicated farm safety net program that has worked well for the American people.

It is unquestioned that the American people enjoy the safest, most abundant and cheapest food and fiber source in the world, in the developed countries; and we do that because of the hard work, sweat equity, and risk-taking of the American ag producer. They rely in turn on a safety net that is relatively complicated and interwoven across a bunch of things that make it help.

The budget that we did pass says that the farm bill will be written in 2012. I understand my colleague's disdain for the process of the Agriculture Committee. He doesn't like the Agriculture Committee, he doesn't like the work product that we come out with, but that's the group that knows the most about the process of the safety net.

Doing this, what the gentleman would like to do tonight, would disrupt that trade agreement and undercut the U.S. Trade Representative and his ability to negotiate around the world because he's negotiated with a group who won't stick by their word.

The 2008 farm bill put in place a 5-year contract, 5-year agreement with the American ag producers, it goes to the 2012 farm bill--2012 crop year, and we ought to stand behind it and defeat this amendment.

So the money does not go to farmers. It does protect $800 million a year in exports of nonagricultural exports that are imported to this country, including intellectual property rights that would be abrogated if we back out of this deal that we've made with Brazil. So with that I respectfully request my colleagues to oppose the Kind amendment as being wrong-headed tonight.

I yield back the balance of my time.

Mr. BLUMENAUER. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the last word.

The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman from Oregon is recognized for 5 minutes.

Mr. BLUMENAUER. I listened to my good friend from Texas talk about deferring yet again to the Ag Committee, that somehow this payment goes to the Brazilian cotton industry and not to the cotton farmers, a distinction without a difference I would suggest.

I rise in support of my colleague from Wisconsin in this proposal. I've been in this Congress having watched three farm bill reauthorizations, and each time we find that there is expression on the floor of this Chamber for actual reform. We've asked for limitations. We are told well we just don't--the floor doesn't understand; it's too complicated. Well, it is complicated and twisted because this is an effort to try, through the complexity, to layer efforts here that cheat the American consumer, that hurt the environment, and pose serious problems for international trade.

And my friend from Wisconsin is correct. We were talking about this in the last farm bill, and we got our comeuppance, but instead of responding responsibly in reducing or eliminating the illegal cotton subsidies, we're shoving upwards of a half-billion dollars to the Brazilian cotton industry, and I'll be prepared to argue, it benefits cotton farmers. So we're subsidizing two countries because we fail to reach our responsibilities now.

I sincerely think this is wrong. I think $147 million could go a long way towards helping the part of American agriculture that grows food that we categorize as specialty crops who are dramatically shortchanged.

I would like to yield the remainder of my time, if I could, to my good friend from Wisconsin, the sponsor of this amendment.

Mr. KIND. Well, I thank my good friend from Oregon for his support of the amendment and for his support throughout the years in trying to lead the effort for meaningful farm bill reform.

Mr. Chairman, there is another solution to this that's going to be offered by our good friend and colleague from Arizona in just a little bit, Mr. Flake. He goes to the heart of the WTO decision to find out what changes we should be making in the cotton subsidy program to get out from under the thumb of Brazil, and I would support that amendment, and I hope my colleagues support his amendment as well because that is the ultimate solution to this: Instead of just cutting off the funding to Brazil right now, coming up with the cotton subsidy reform.

Now, let's remember the context in which we find ourselves this evening. Cotton payments are almost at a world record high price right now, yet these subsidies are still going out. There's just very little relationship right now with the subsidies under title I to the grain producers and cotton producers of our country and the price they receive in the marketplace. And in a time of tough budgets, when everyone else is being asked to take a haircut, whether you're a supporter of conservation programs or vital nutrition programs for our children and seniors, for us to not even look and consider the title I programs in the context of this agriculture appropriation, it's beyond the pale. There's just no justification to it.

These programs are outdated. They are impossible to justify with the American taxpayer, especially with the deficit reduction that all of us are interested in participating in this year. This is a small, but I think significant, step down the road of reform with the farm bill finding savings that can be applied to either other programs or for deficit reduction.

That's why I commend my colleague from Arizona for the amendment he's about to offer, but my friend from Oregon, too, will have some important amendments for us to consider, a payment limitation limiting the overall amount of subsidies that go to our producers. And folks, this is going to agribusiness, many of whom have mailing addresses in Manhattan, in Chicago, in San Francisco. These aren't even family farmers working the land, and they're some of the primary recipients of these agriculture subsidies.

Mr. Blumenauer's amendments address that, along with Mr. Flake's AGI cutoff at $250,000 a year. That's 250 thousand dollars of profit, and if you're an entity making a profit of over a quarter-million dollars a year, should you really still be receiving taxpayer subsidies for the business that you're running? I think not, and we'll have another opportunity to consider that later tonight.

So I appreciate the gentleman yielding me this time and further explaining what this amendment is all about. And if we are serious about deficit reduction, if we are serious about reining in some of these programs that are tough to justify, then we should be serious about supporting this amendment tonight.

Mr. BLUMENAUER. And Mr. Chair, on that note I, too, commend what my friend from Wisconsin is doing. I look forward to the comments from my friend from Arizona. If we're serious about reform and saving money, it's time to move in this area.

I yield back the balance of my time.

Mr. FLAKE. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the last word.

The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman from Arizona is recognized for 5 minutes.

Mr. FLAKE. Mr. Chairman, I rise in support of the Kind amendment. I commend the gentleman from Wisconsin for offering this.

You know, we've heard here that we need this program to make us trade compliant. Many of us warned when we did the last farm bill that if we did this level of subsidies that it would run afoul of our trade agreements. Yet we plowed ahead and did it anyway. And then April of last year is when our farm programs, which on their best day are out of step with reality, moved into the realm of the absurd when we hatched a program to actually fund an institute in Brazil to fund the cotton industry there to start subsidizing the Brazilians so that we could continue to subsidize our own farmers. Is that not absurd? Why are we continuing to do this?

It was raised before that we've got to do this to make us trade compliant now where tariffs might be imposed. That is true, but I offered an amendment in the committee earlier on that would have taken money from the direct payments that we currently pay to cotton farmers and paid off the Brazilians with that money rather than raid the Treasury and raid the taxpayers once again. And guess what? That passed in committee but was stricken when it came to the floor.

So when you hear all this rhetoric about, hey, we want to be trade compliant, we could have done that. We could have simply allowed that amendment to stick in the bill, and then this would have been trade compliant. But the Brazilians would have been paid off not with new taxpayer money but with the money that is making us non-trade compliant in the first place.

So don't believe what you're hearing about, we just want to be trade compliant; that's what this is about. We offered an alternative to that, and it was rejected. And so here we are asking the taxpayers to once again this year, $147 million to the Brazilians to make us trade compliant. We've got to stop this.

Nobody really believes that we're going to do a farm bill this year. Nobody really believes we're going to do one next year. And so we're going to be doing this year after year after year, so that means that we're going to continue to do this unless we stop it. I can tell you if we pass the Kind amendment tonight, we will be back and we'll reform our cotton subsidies in a way that will make us trade compliant. We'll go back and accept the Flake amendment that passed in the Appropriations Committee that perhaps took the money from the cotton program.

We don't need to continue to ask the taxpayers to pay off the Brazilians so that we can continue out-of-step subsidies to our own farmers. That's what this amendment is about. I commend the gentleman for offering it.

And I would yield to the gentleman from Wisconsin.

Mr. KIND. I appreciate the gentleman yielding, and I appreciate his support of this amendment and the leadership that he's shown not only in committee but throughout the years when it comes to sensible farm bill reform.

The easiest way for us to come into trade compliance isn't by bribing the Brazilian government to get them to not enforce the sanctions that it can under WTO; it's fixing this domestic program, and doing it now rather than waiting years from now, as my colleague just pointed out, for the next farm bill. I know this isn't easy, and I know the committees wrestles with a lot of different constituent problems. I used to serve on the committee.

I'm not asking anyone here tonight to do anything differently than what I'm asking my producers to do in my district of Wisconsin and in my State, and that's taking a haircut. The reforms that I've been proposing through the years would require my district to take a haircut on these agriculture subsidies. It's not always easy standing up to groups that are getting something from the government and saying we can't afford it, nor can we justify it, with the market and with the deficit. But that is what it's going to take for this body to come together if we are going to be serious about deficit reduction and getting the spending under control.

I know that the Agriculture Committee has their hands full, and I know they would rather just defer this next decision until the next farm bill and put it off. But we don't know when that's going to be. But the thing we do know for certain is there is $147 million going out the door every year right now that we can stop doing tonight with the passage of this amendment.

Mr. FLAKE. I just want to make a point that everybody needs to take a haircut here if we are going to get this debt and deficit under control. We shouldn't ask the taxpayers once again to pay off the Brazilians so we can continue out-of-step subsidies to our own farmers.

We have a cotton industry in Arizona. They may take a hit because of this, but everybody has to take a haircut. Everybody has to contribute here to getting this deficit and this debt under control. And if we can't start with a program like this, I don't know where we'll start.

After this amendment, I plan to offer an amendment that will go after the programs that actually make us nontrade compliant. I will be glad to give up on that amendment, not offer it at all, if this amendment is allowed to pass. But if it is called for the ``noes,'' then I plan to offer the amendment after this.

With that, I yield back the balance of my time.

Mr. PETERSON. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of words.

The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman from Minnesota is recognized for 5 minutes.

Mr. PETERSON. Mr. Chairman, you know, this is kind of a surreal debate because I don't think we're talking about the real issue here. You know, the cotton program isn't perfect. A lot of the programs that we have in the Agriculture Committee aren't perfect. Freedom to Farm, it was passed in '96. It got us into some of these problems. I opposed. It saved a little bit of money, and then we ended up spending 10 times as much money bailing people out when it collapsed. So you have got to be careful what you are doing.

But the problem here is, we're arguing about something that no longer exists. This program that they sued us under no longer exists. We have fixed it two or three times. We tried to address this. It was never good enough for the Brazilians. But we made some changes, and we made some more changes, and then we made some more changes in the 2008 farm bill. It's still not good enough for them.

Cotton went through some very difficult times. I don't have any cotton in my district. This is not a parochial issue for me. But if they wouldn't have had that safety net, we would have been out of the cotton business. But what was going on at the same time? We had Brazil using government money to increase cotton production in Brazil. And this is something that isn't considered in the WTO because we are such geniuses that we agreed to this agreement that tied our hands and gave our competitors the ability to eat our lunch. And that's what's going on.

You know, JBS, which just took over a big part of the livestock industry in this country, is financed by the Brazilian Government. They own 30 percent of JBS. Nobody complains about that. The Brazilian Government created most of this competition that collapsed the cotton prices worldwide.

And then we agreed to let China into the WTO, and they promised that they weren't going to go into cotton production. We shipped our textile market to China and collapsed all of our textile industry. And what happened? They increased production like crazy. India increased production like crazy. Our cotton prices went down below the cost of production because of these trade agreements that we got involved in. But the way they're structured, there's nothing we can do about it. But they're going to sue us over a little step two program that we now got rid of, trying to keep our people in business.

Now, if you want to ship the whole cotton industry to Brazil and China and India, you are on a good start to doing that. And if you keep on this road, you're going to ship the rest of agriculture to these so-called developing nations that are not developing nations. If you've been to Brazil, in agriculture, they are anything but a developing nation; but they're protected under the rules that we agreed to in this WTO deal.

So is this a perfect solution? No. But we couldn't get the Brazilians to honestly sit down and work this out because they don't want to. They're trying to use this for other reasons, for other advantages in these trade negotiations and so forth. And I don't think we can ever do anything to satisfy them.

So there's more to this than people are talking about here. This is not about saving money. This is about making sure that we can have a safety net in this country so we can maintain production of agriculture in the United States and not ship it all to other countries and not get dependent on foreign countries for our food, like we've become dependent on foreign countries for our energy. That would be the worst thing that could happen to us.

So I just hope people understand all of the different ramifications. This isn't a perfect deal; but for the time being, it's probably the best solution that we can come up with.

I yield back the balance of my time.

Mr. LUCAS. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of words.

The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman from Oklahoma is recognized for 5 minutes.

Mr. LUCAS. Mr. Chairman, I rise in opposition to this amendment.

I want to return for a moment, I think, to the focus of the discussion. I want to be absolutely clear. If this amendment passes, it will--it could incite a trade war. Brazil could immediately impose $800 million in retaliatory tariffs on a variety of U.S. goods.

I promise you, they won't retaliate against U.S. agricultural products. They'll go after ag chemicals and biotechnology products. And they'll go after veterinarian medicines and software and books and music and films. They'll go at everybody outside of production agriculture with their $800 billion in retaliatory tariffs.

Now, we can debate how we got here; and my colleague, the ranking member, gave a very good history of what led us to this point. But this amendment right here, right now would expose the U.S. to job-killing sanctions on goods valued at $800 million.

In 2010, the Obama administration finalized a framework agreement with Brazil that was a critical step in resolving this dispute about the U.S. Upland Cotton Program and export credits. And, yes, under the agreement, Brazil agreed to delay trade sanctions, trade retaliation until the 2012 farm bill was developed and put together. This amendment would circumvent the legislative process in what could only be described as a haphazard way that should be a relic of the past.

This amendment is an attempt to circumvent regular order, the democratic policy process, by changing policy on an appropriation bill. Now, I can assure you, I plan and we will have a full and open process when we start the farm bill debate. We'll debate the relevant issues dealt with in this amendment.

And on that note, I would serve a notice for record that next week, we plan to start the process of conducting an audit of all farm programs. This audit is just the beginning of the comprehensive and transparent process we'll use to draft the 2012 farm bill. Policy changes will be considered carefully with the input from industry stakeholders and constituents and within the larger context of improving the competitiveness and long productivity of American agriculture.

Let's not incite a trade war. Let's return to regular order. And if nothing else, my friends, remember, this bill is 13 percent lower than the previous spending bill. This Ag approps bill takes us almost back to 2006. We are giving our share in this appropriations process. And everyone in this room knows that whether it's the regular farm bill next summer or if we have some grandiose understanding on the national debt ceiling and spending, the deficit, we could well have a farm bill dramatically quicker than next summer, and we'll have a farm bill that reflects a dramatic reduction in resources compared to past farm bills.

Let the Ag Committee in regular order craft the policy, and then when we bring it to the floor--all of our friends, expert ag economists, we all may be together--you will have your shot, as you've had before. But please don't incite a trade war. Please don't ignore the regular order of appropriation authorization. Please be rational in what you do. We've got tough decisions ahead of us. Collin and I and the rest of the committee, we know that. We're going to do what we have to do. But let us do it in regular order, not in this fashion.

With that, Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.

Mr. BISHOP of Georgia. I move to strike the requisite number of words.

The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman is recognized for 5 minutes.

Mr. BISHOP of Georgia. Let me just say this: Georgia is the second-largest cotton-producing State. It accounts for approximately 10 percent of the U.S. cotton production. In 2011, Georgia farmers intend to plant almost 1.5 million acres of cotton.

The average farm-gate value is more than $600 million. There are approximately 2,800 businesses directly involved in the production, processing, and distribution of cotton. Accounting for the broader economic effects, the Georgia cotton industry supports more than 46,000 jobs, and it generates economic activity of approximately $11 billion.

Now, the proponents of these amendments target provisions in the cotton programs that are at the center of a WTO trade case which Brazil has against the United States. The U.S. and the Brazilian Governments have scheduled a series of consultations designed to identify the modifications in policy that will resolve the case. The intention is to reach agreement on carefully thought-out provisions that can be included in the 2012 farm bill.

These hastily drafted amendments are not guaranteed to resolve the dispute, 1, since the U.S.-Brazil consultations have not resulted in any specific agreement and, 2, since these approaches will certainly undermine the future discussions as the two countries attempt to reach a final resolution that's fair and that is reasonable.

The amendments target cotton farmers in an effort to reduce government spending. The 2008 farm bill, including the cotton provisions, was fully paid for, offset, and did not add one single dime to the deficit. They cite the years in which the government's support for cotton was historically high, but they ignore the years when the support actually is at historic lows. We need to maintain the safety net so that it's there when it's needed but not utilized, as it hasn't been recently, when it's not needed.

Farmers understand the current budget pressures. They understand that very well. But they expect to be a part of a debate involving all of the agricultural stakeholders, and not be singled out for ad hoc budget reductions with hasty policy decisions.

These proposed amendments would nullify the basic component of cotton policy. If these amendments are enacted, they would take effect October 1, and, as a result, USDA would have to change the cotton program rules in the middle of the marketing year and change them back effective October 1, 2012. This would undermine the confidence in commodity programs, especially among agricultural lenders.

This would compromise our agriculture policy, a policy that has been vetted very carefully by our authorizing committees and relied upon by our growers and our lenders in making their business decisions going into 2012. The reauthorization of the farm bill in 2012 is the proper forum to debate the cotton agriculture policy, not here on this appropriations bill.

We have got to do what is right in regular order. This is not the time. It's not the place. And what we're doing tonight, if they go forward with this, is pulling the rug out from under our cotton farmers and our agriculture when they have made financial plans through 2012. It is unfair; it's not right, and we should not do it.

I urge my colleagues to reject these amendments. They are ill-advised.

I yield back the balance of my time.

Mr. FARENTHOLD. I move to strike the last word.

The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman from Texas is recognized for 5 minutes.

Mr. FARENTHOLD. I would like to speak in opposition to this.

The ranking member gives a great history lesson on how this comes out. The previous farm bill--passed by primarily Congress controlled by your side of the aisle--created a situation with our cotton subsidies that has caused a problem with Brazil, and we are trying to work it out.

My colleagues on this side of the aisle and many of the colleagues on the other side of the aisle are also concerned that this government as a whole, through the regulatory process, picked the regulatory agencies, making it very difficult and unpredictable for businesses by changing the regulatory environment.

Our businesses are holding back, not investing, not creating jobs. But we're about to do the same thing ourselves right here with this amendment by yanking the rug out from under our cotton farmers, who have built their businesses, made their plans based on the promise of the last farm bill.

You know, I love to save money for this government. I'm none too happy to see this money going to Brazil. But we basically lost a lawsuit and we're having to pay the damages. And we're going to fix it in the regular order without yanking the rug out from under the farmers, who are the backbone of this country, by changing the rules in the middle of the game. Give us until next year to get that farm bill out, and we will address it.

Even though it didn't rise to the point of order, this really does rise, in my opinion, to the level of legislating within an appropriations bill.

I don't like spending the money. I don't like sending it offshore. But we cannot change the rules in the middle of the game. We cannot move the goalposts for our farmers, many of whom are small, private farmers who have built their future, taken out loans, decided to buy more land, decided to buy more equipment, based all their business decisions on the promise that this government made to them in the last farm bill. And changing the rules at this point is absolutely wrong, and I encourage my friends and my colleagues to vote against this amendment.

I yield back the balance of my time.

Mr. DeFAZIO. I move to strike the last word.

The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman from Oregon is recognized for 5 minutes.

Mr. DeFAZIO. The gentleman that preceded me said we lost a lawsuit. We didn't lose a lawsuit. If he knows anything about the WTO dispute resolution process, no conflict of interest, no open litigation, no legal proceeding as we in the United States of America understand it. A closed group with no conflict-of-interest rules that makes rulings. And they have decided that we, under this failed trade policy, should pay tribute, tribute, more than we paid to the Barbary pirates--$147,300,000 a year to the Government of Brazil so we can subsidize our cotton farmers.

Now, you go home and explain that to your constituents. We'll borrow $147,300,000 from China and we'll send it to Brazil so we can subsidize our cotton farmers.

What is this all about? It is about a totally failed trade policy. And at some point, this Congress has to take a stand.

Ron Paul and I, a number of years ago, 3 years ago--we get to do it once every 5 years--offered an amendment to withdraw the United States of America from the WTO. That will come up soon. I hope you'll all support it. It is something that binds us and is destroying our industries, our farmers, and everything else that's great about this country. I voted against the WTO.

This isn't about so much as a failed farm policy or farm bill, as the gentleman outlaid. It's about totally failed trade policies.

Other countries want to protect their agricultural interests. They want to feed their own people. They don't want to import polluted food from China.

We've opened up our country to polluted foods and goods from China and Brazil and everyplace else in the world with the WTO and these trade agreements. They don't observe them. We go and we lose this dispute and say, oh, we've got no choice but to pay. We have a choice. Let's not pay. We're not going to pay the tribute. We're not going to borrow the money from China. We're not going to send it to Brazil. Let's see what they do next. And maybe we can blow up this thing called the WTO and get back to something that protects our national interests.

I yield to the gentleman from Wisconsin.

Mr. KIND. I thank the gentleman for his comments in support of this amendment. And just one final point to my colleagues who have been supportive of trade agreements in the past.

Let's be honest with ourselves. If we're going to be a part of this WTO organization to establish rules of trade across borders, then let's not turn our back on an adverse decision that affects us. Let's, instead, comply and bring the cotton subsidy program into compliance. That is the answer to this. And let's end this nonsense of stacking subsidy program on top of subsidy program to just buy off and blackmail other governments who have a WTO decision in their hands.

And I cannot believe that this evening, when we're asking for huge, unprecedented cuts in conservation programs that will affect thousands of farmers throughout the country and unprecedented cuts with nutrition programs that will affect thousands of low-income families with their children, and seniors, saying, ``Tough luck. We're operating under tough budget times. You're just going to have to do without,'' when it comes to a simple amendment like this to save $147 million a year to bribe Brazil cotton producers and an unwillingness to go into the title I subsidy programs for cost savings, then what the heck are we doing around here?

It is just beyond the pale that we're willing to take the deep cuts--and the chairman of the Agriculture Committee claimed a 12 percent cut in the farm bill, but he didn't say where those cuts were coming from. I'll tell you where it's not coming from. It's not coming from these subsidy programs. It's not coming from the cotton subsidy program that has gotten us into this problem. A handful of powerful cotton families are holding this institution hostage in order to maintain these subsidy programs that have benefited them for too long. Talk about benefiting the few at the expense of the many; this is the classic example of this Agriculture appropriation bill before us this evening. We can do a heck of a lot better.

Mr. DeFAZIO. I will reclaim my time to say we may have some differences over the underlying trade agreement and the mandates and the process which got us to this point, but I agree, subsidies--or bribes--on top of subsidies is insane in these tough budget times.

And I would just note that we're going to be confronted very soon with another limitation amendment on another bill where we're going to have a
choice: We're going to abandon the American trucking industry to Mexico--which is, again, exacting tribute from the U.S., $4 billion a year worth of tariffs, to try and drive our companies south of the border to use Mexican drivers.

So time and time again these trade agreements are failing us. I think it's bigger than the problem of the subsidies in the farm bill, and this Congress needs to pay attention. One way or another, we're either going to get real about our deficits and what's really essential to the American people--feeding our people, clothing our people, and putting American people to work--or we're going to abandon ourselves to this failed notion of the WTO and other trade agreements.

Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.

Mr. BRADY of Texas. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the last word.

The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman is recognized for 5 minutes.

Mr. BRADY of Texas. Mr. Chairman, the world has changed. It's not enough to simply buy American anymore, we have to sell American. We have to sell our American agriculture products, our technology products and services all throughout the world. But oftentimes, when we compete, we find much of the world is tilted against us. Other countries cut agreements to make it tough for us to sell. That's why we are involved in the World Trade Organization, to insist that other countries play by the rules, but that means America has to play by the rules as well.

We lost this case in the WTO. So the question today isn't about cotton subsidies or even saving money; it's about the smart way to address this issue that protects American jobs.

Now I am very sympathetic to this amendment. Paying Brazil nearly $12 million a month is not the right way to resolve this issue, and I agree with that. In fact, America should simply live up to its WTO obligation and insist that others do the same as well.

The settlement that's in place today is necessary to prevent Brazil from imposing almost $1 billion of new tariffs, new taxes on American products when we try to sell them into Brazil. And it's not just agriculture products. As you heard Chairman Frank Lucas talk, he made the point that not only can Brazil penalize our ag products, they can tax and tariff a broad range of products, especially America's innovation economy. So in your State, if you have companies that produce pharmaceuticals, medical devices, business software, technology, anything in the innovation sector of America, your companies and your workers face the loss of jobs and the loss of product sales because of this issue.

So the smart way to handle this is to deal with this not only in the farm bill, but at the WTO today, insisting that as we end these cotton subsidies, other countries end their agricultural subsidies as well. That is the smart way to resolve this issue that doesn't hurt America and jobs, in fact protects our American intellectual property rights in Brazil and other countries.

This is an issue of doing it the smart way. I oppose this amendment. I urge our colleagues to continue to work together to resolve this issue in a smart way for our economy and a smart way for our jobs.

I yield back the balance of my time.

The Acting CHAIR. The question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman from Wisconsin (Mr. Kind).

The question was taken; and the Acting Chair announced that the noes appeared to have it.

Mr. KIND. Mr. Chairman, I demand a recorded vote.

The Acting CHAIR. Pursuant to clause 6 of rule XVIII, further proceedings on the amendment offered by the gentleman from Wisconsin will be postponed.

Mrs. SCHMIDT. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the last word.

The Acting CHAIR. The gentlewoman from Ohio is recognized for 5 minutes.

Mrs. SCHMIDT. Mr. Chairman, a few moments ago my friend from California had an amendment that she did withdraw that really wanted to codify into law the USDA's rules regarding the school lunch program. And while I won't go into the lengthy reasons why it's the wrong way to go for nutrition--not just the cost that it bears to the schools, but also the fact that USDA was recommending reducing the consumption of potatoes, corn, peas and lima beans to just one serving a week--which believe me I was shocked. But it wasn't just myself that had this reaction; it was also the California Fruit Growers Association, it was the National School Boards Association, it was the Council of the Great City Schools that wrote a letter. And that's why I and 40 other colleagues wrote to Mr. Vilsack of the U.S. Department of Agriculture in reaction to the promulgation of these rules.

I will enter into the Record the testimony I was going to give until she withdrew the amendment, as well as these four letters.

* [Begin Insert]

Mr. Chair, I rise in opposition to this amendment. Breakfasts and lunches served in schools are important components of the diets of school age children. Improving the nutritional profile of meals served to school children is very important.

When the USDA proposed a rule that eliminated potatoes from the School Breakfast program and limited the School Lunch program to one cup a week of potatoes, I was very concerned.

On the Agriculture Committee, I have made it frequently known how important healthy living and nutritious eating habits are to me as a person, a mother, a grandmother and as a legislator. It is especially near and dear to my heart when we discuss policies that affect children's nutritional needs.

When I heard that the USDA recommended reducing the consumption of potatoes, corn, peas, and lima beans--I was shocked.

When my daughter was growing up, I took great care to ensure that she ate healthy, balanced meals. Of course, potatoes were a part of that equation. You all know that they are full of potassium, vitamins C and B6, potassium, fiber, and antioxidants. I cannot understand why the USDA would want to reduce school children's consumption of potatoes.

I think that it is short sighted for the USDA to ignore the health benefits that the potato provides. When looking at how to incentivize healthier eating habits, we in Congress need to find a way to encourage and educate program recipients to eat balanced meals.

I think it is very important to make sure that children receive balanced meals, and that certainly includes potatoes.

I, along with forty-one of my colleagues sent a letter to the USDA asking a number of questions about this proposed rule. Mr. Speaker, without objections, I would like to submit a copy of this letter to the Record.

Mr. Chair, potatoes, lima beans, peas, and corn are all healthy vegetables that should certainly be in the School Breakfast and Lunch Programs.

Potatoes are an excellent source of potassium and good source of fiber. According to the USDA's own magazine, Amber Waves, potatoes deliver these nutrients at a very low cost.

FNS has estimated that the proposed rule would increase the cost of school meals by $6.8 billion over the next five years. Per meal, the cost will increase by 14 cents per lunch and fifty cents per breakfast.

Mr. Chair, school districts and states across the country are already cash-strapped and cannot afford this increased cost.

This additional burden will be passed onto students paying full price for their meals.

While I agree with the intent of the USDA to encourage the consumption of more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins--restricting the consumption of nutritious vegetables like potatoes, lima beans, peas, and corn is short-sighted and not the most effective approach to achieve that goal.

I encourage my colleagues to vote no on this amendment and instruct the USDA to issue a new proposed rule on implementing the new national nutrition standards for the School Breakfast and School Lunch Programs.

* [End Insert]



Sacramento, CA, June 15, 2011.
Rayburn House Office Building, House of Representatives, Washington, DC.

DEAR REPRESENTATIVE WOOLSEY: The California League of Food Processors (CLFP) respectfully opposes your amendment to the FY 2012 Agriculture Appropriations bill, H.R. 2112, prevent the Agriculture Department from reissuing more reasonable and cost effective proposed regulations on the school breakfast and lunch program.

CLFP has concerns about USDA recommending school breakfast programs eliminate ``starchy vegetables'' and proposing restrictions on the use of tomato paste and cheese. As I'm sure you remember CLFP members account for 95% of the fruits and vegetables canned, frozen and dehydrated/dried in California and this repersents more than 35% of U.S. production. For a number of preserved food products, California produces 100% of U.S. output, for example tomato paste. These new USDA restrictions could potentially mean the loss of millions of dollars in sales of vegetables, fruit and cheese to the national school program. Its negative effects would ripple throughout the industry, from farmers, dairymen, package manufacturers, etc. The cost impact of this rule on our schools and food producers should be considered by USDA. Affirmative changes to the meal plan relative to starchy vegetables limits and tomato serving calculations would go a long way to fixing the cost issues that are concerning to schools.

CLFP supports your efforts to help ensure school kids have access to healthy and nutritious meals. However, we urge you to allow USDA to ensure the new rule on school meals is cost neutral and resist efforts by USDA to proclaim vegetables and other healthy foods ``good'' or ``bad''.

Very Truly Yours,

Ed Yates,
President and CEO,




Alexandria, VA, June 14, 2011.
Re: H.R. 2112--FY 2012 Agriculture Appropriations Bill.

House of Representatives, Washington, DC.

DEAR REPRESENTATIVE: The National School Boards Association (NSBA), representing over 90,000 local school board members across the Nation, is deeply committed to fostering a healthy and positive learning environment for children to achieve their full potential. However, NSBA is gravely concerned about the financial impact of the recent child nutrition reauthorization (P.L. 111-296) on school districts at a time when many are in dire economic straits. Therefore, NSBA supports report language accompanying the FY 2012 Agriculture Appropriations bill that directs the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to propose new rules that do not create unfunded mandates for school districts.

For example, the USDA estimates a cost increase of 14 cents per school lunch under new proposed standards for school meal programs, even though the available reimbursement increase is just 6 cents. A district serving free and reduced price lunches to 5,000 students faces a potential shortfall of $72,000 annually under this scenario. The Department recommends a number of cost-shifting measures to address the shortfall (such as increased student payments, increased state and local funding, and operational changes), that are unrealistic and unconscionable given the current economic realities for many states and communities.

School districts have already closed buildings, terminated programs and laid off teachers due to eroding local, state, and federal resources. Every dollar in unfunded mandates in the child nutrition reauthorization must come from somewhere else in the educational system and result in more layoffs, larger class sizes, narrowing of the curriculum, elimination of after-school programs, and cuts to other program areas, including school food services.

The new meal standards are just one of many provisions of P.L. 111-296 being implemented over the next two-to-three years and will impose additional costs on school districts. The reauthorization is a hollow promise to our children when it comes at the expense of the education that will help them to succeed.

Therefore, NSBA supports report language accompanying the FY 2012 Agriculture Appropriations bill that directs USDA to propose new rules that do not create unfunded mandates for school districts. Questions regarding our concerns may be directed to Lucy Gettman, director of federal programs at 703-838-6763; or by e-mail at


Michael A. Resnick,
Associate Director.




Washington, DC, June 14, 2011.
Washington, DC.

DEAR REPRESENTATIVE: The Council of the Great City Schools, the coalition of the nation's largest central city school districts, writes to call your attention to the proposed federal School Meals regulations that will cost an additional $6.8 billion, and the possible amendment to the FY 2012 Agriculture Appropriations bill, H.R. 2112, by Representative Woolsey that would prevent the Agriculture Department from reissuing more reasonable and cost effective proposed regulations pursuant to the Committee report. The Great City Schools strongly opposes the Woolsey amendment.

Many of the nation's largest urban school districts have been among the leaders in improving the nutritional content of school meals and snacks provided to our students. Yet, our school districts are extremely concerned that USDA is proposing new federal school meals requirements costing an additional $6.8 billion, with over $5 billion in unreimbursed costs shifting on to school district budgets. The newly proposed school breakfast program requirements alone would cost $4 billion, with the federal government providing not one-cent of additional federal reimbursement for these additional meal costs. The Council is skeptical that our formal regulatory comments recommending over $4.5 billion in cost-saving changes to the rule will be accepted by USDA.

Before the Education and Workforce Committee, the San Diego Unified School District explained that they were already meeting all of the proposed new school meal nutritional standards, with the exception of the future sodium requirement, but that the school district would have to scrap its Nutrient-based School Meals program (as would 30% of the nation's school districts) and institute the new meal system required under the proposed USDA regulations, at the additional cost of over $4 million annually to the district. School nutritionists and food service directors point out in regulatory comments that many of the newly proposed school meals requirements are unnecessary, excessive, costly, or counterproductive in the case of the regulatory prohibition on well-tested nutrient-based school meal systems.

Congress unfortunately shortcut the legislative process in passing the Senate's version of the Child Nutrition reauthorization bill in the lame duck session of the 111th Congress. The House child nutrition bill was not considered by the full House, and in fact there was no floor debate on the Senate child nutrition bill, which was adopted by unanimous consent prior to the August 2010 congressional recess. Without a full legislative process, the extent of the unreimbursed costs reflected in the USDA regulations, already under development for multiple years, was not fully examined. The drumbeat of celebrities and food advocacy groups promoting healthier lifestyles, and anti-obesity programs drowned out the practical considerations of cost-effectiveness and local budgetary realities faced by each of your school districts in this economic downturn.

A NO vote on the Woolsey amendment provides an opportunity to underscore the Appropriations Committee report that the Agriculture Department should withdraw its overreaching new federal school meals rules, and reissue a more realistic and workable proposed regulation.


Michael Casserly,
Executive Director.



Washington, DC, May 5, 2011.
Secretary, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Whitten Building, Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC.

DEAR SECRETARY VILSACK: Breakfasts and lunches served in the school setting are important components of the diets of school age children. Improving the nutritional profile of meals served in schools and maintaining participation rates are important priorities. We share your commitment to continually improving the contribution of the school meal to the nutritional needs of school children and to encourage healthy lifestyles for children that are built on a foundation of sound nutrition and physical activity.

USDA recently published a proposed rule on school meal plans to reflect the Dietary Guidelines. That proposal was based in great part on a study by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) commissioned by USDA. The recently released 2010 Dietary Guidelines identified potassium, fiber, vitamin D and calcium as nutrients of concern for all Americans, including school age children. Changes to the school meal plans should take steps toward increasing the consumption of these key nutrients by increasing student access to fruits and vegetables that are either ``excellent'' or ``good'' sources.

Changes to the school meal plans must consider the constraints faced by school lunch providers. School lunch providers need to offer nutritious affordable options that children will eat and that will encourage continued high rates of participation in both breakfast and lunch programs. For many children, the school meals are their prime source of nutrition for the day. Changes that discourage participation will reduce the overall health and wellness of American children.

As we continue to follow the development of the next generation of school meal plans, we would appreciate your thoughts on the following questions:

In the proposed rule, USDA indicates that implementation of the proposal will result in $6.8 billion in increased costs over five years and that small entities will incur 80 per cent of that increase. Do you have estimates on the impact of these cost increases on participation among reimbursed, partially reimbursed and paying participants?

Potatoes are rates as an ``excellent'' source of potassium and a ``good'' source of fiber. According to a recent article in the March 2011, USDA magazine, Amber Waves, potatoes deliver these nutrients at a very low cost. What is the rationale for eliminating potatoes from the breakfast meal and limiting them to one cup a week when they provide cost effective access to two key nutrients of concern identified by the IOM?

By limiting access to potatoes and other starchy vegetables, the proposed meal plans seem to advance the notion that this will increase the consumption of the orange, green and other types of vegetables otherwise offered. Is there science to support the theory that consumption of orange, green and other types of vegetables will increase is offered more often? What science exists that measures this type of vegetable menu change on nutrient delivery?

The starchy vegetable category includes vegetables with a variety of nutritional characteristics. What are the key characteristics that USDA identified which link the vegetables placed in this category, and how are they distinct from other vegetables excluded from the starchy vegetable category?

According the nutrition experts, bananas and potatoes are very similar in their nutritional makeup. This goes beyond both being rich in potassium. It includes similarities in carbohydrates, dietary fiber and other nutrients. Should both bananas and potatoes have serving limits in the proposed meal plans?

The meal plan acknowledges a preference for orange and dark green vegetables? Is there sufficient science to support such a preference for orange and dark green vegetables? Would Irish potatoes with yellow, purple or other flesh color be considered starchy vegetables?

According to the proposed rule, lima beans in the fresh, canned or frozen form are considered starchy vegetables. In dried form they are legumes. Are there nutritional changes between the forms that support such a distinction?

The proposed meal plans are based on consumption data available from 2002 that was reviewed by the IOM for their report. Did USDA evaluate the applicability of that consumption data on potatoes and other starchy vegetables, given changes in preparation methods for products currently offered in school?

Are the serving limits on starchy vegetables, and potatoes in particular, based primarily on the nutritional profile of the product or on the preparation methods for the product?

Thank you in advance for your feedback to our questions. We look forward to working with you toward our common goal of improving the well-being of our nation's school children.

Jean Schmidt, Joe Baca, Rick Berg, Ken Calvert, K. Michael Conaway, Eric A. ``Rick'' Crawford, Renee L. Ellmers, Wally Herger, Bill Huizenga, Raúl R. Labrador, Dan Burton, Dennis A. Cardoza, Jim Costa, Sean P. Duffy, Stephen Lee Fincher, Jaime Herrera Beutler, Steve King, Doug Lamborn, Tom Latham, Tom McClintock, Michael H. Michaud.
Devin Nunes, Collin C. Peterson, Chellie Pingree, Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan, Michael K. Simpson, Robert E. Latta, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Candice S. Miller, William L. Owens, Thomas E. Petri, Reid J. Ribble, Kurt Schrader, Adrian Smith, Marlin A. Stutzman, Scott R. Tipton, Greg Walden, Steve Womack, Lee Terry, Fred Upton, Timothy J. Walz, Todd C. Young.

Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.


Mr. DINGELL. Mr. Chairman, I have an amendment at the desk.

The Acting CHAIR. The Clerk will report the amendment.

The Clerk read as follows:

At the end of the bill (before the short title), insert the following new section:

Sec. __. The amounts otherwise provided by this Act for ``Departmental Administration'', ``Agriculture Buildings and Facilities and Rental Payments'', administrative expenses under the third paragraph under ``Agricultural Credit Insurance Fund Program Account'', administrative expenses under the fourth paragraph under ``Rural Housing Insurance Fund Program Account'', and ``Foreign Agricultural Service--salaries and expenses'' are hereby reduced by, and the amount otherwise provided by this Act for ``Food and Drug Administration--salaries and expenses'' is hereby increased by, $5,000,000, $20,000,000, $10,000,000, $4,000,000, $10,000,000, and $49,000,000, respectively.

Mr. DINGELL (during the reading). Mr. Chairman, I ask unanimous consent that the reading of the amendment be dispensed with.

The Acting CHAIR. Is there objection to the request of the gentleman from Michigan?

There was no objection.

The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman from Michigan is recognized for 5 minutes.

(Mr. DINGELL asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)

Mr. DINGELL. Mr. Chairman, this is a good amendment.

At a time when 30 people have been grossly sickened and died in Germany and 3,000 have been sickened, we are cutting Food and Drug's enforcement budget. The legislation would cut the food safety budget of FDA by $87 million below fiscal year 11, and $205 million below the President's fiscal year 12 request.

We are witnessing now one of the deadliest E. coli outbreaks ever overseas in Europe, and that infection is spreading across the society of the world. My amendment has the support of the Consumers Union, Pew Charitable Trusts, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, U.S. PIRG, and the National Women's Health Network.

It is time for us to understand that every year in the United States, 3,000 Americans are killed with bad food, 128,000 are hospitalized, 48 million are made sick. We have imported food that is causing all manner of difficulty: Bad peanuts with salmonella, bad mushrooms, E. coli in peppers, melamine in dairy products, salmonella in eggs, bad shellfish and fish from China.

The amendment sees to it that Food and Drug has the resources it needs to do the job to protect the American people from bad food being imported into the United States. We are able to inspect less than 1 percent of the food coming into the United States. This is a positive risk to the American consuming public.

The situation here is indefensible. The House last year passed major improvements in our food safety laws. And we saw to it--we had a funding mechanism which was removed by the Senate. But without the adequate funding that this amendment would afford to our people, we will find that they are at risk of serious health dangers from bad food and from sickness that comes with those things. We are here, by this amendment, giving Food and Drug the resources that it needs, some $49 million, to see to it that these imported foods and other foods are safe.

This is extremely important. And while you might say, well, I don't know whether it is going to affect me, somebody in this country is going to get sick because bad food came in and because it kills people when that happens.

I urge my colleagues to support the amendment until we can get ourselves in a situation where we have proper and adequate funding for Food and Drug to see to it that our people are safe from imports which are causing sickness, illness and death to the American people.

The legislation, unfortunately, does cut the food safety budget, and it cuts it in ways which are threatening a piece of legislation which has strengthened Food and Drug with the support of not just farmers and consumers, but also of the food processing industry, which rallied around and supported the legislation along with consumer groups and all of the other sources in industry, recognizing we desperately need something to be done to ensure that our people do not get sick and die from bad imported foods.

I urge my colleagues to support the amendment. I urge them to do so with vigor until such time as we can get a fee system in place which will adequately support Food and Drug and see to it that our people can sleep easily after they have a full meal knowing that the food they have consumed is safe.

I yield back the balance of my time.

Mrs. LUMMIS. Mr. Chairman, I rise with great temerity in opposition to the amendment by the great gentleman from Michigan.

The Acting CHAIR. The gentlewoman from Wyoming is recognized for 5 minutes.

Mrs. LUMMIS. Mr. Chairman, I would note that over the last 2 days we have heard how ag credit and rural housing have had deep cuts in this bill, and yet now we have an amendment that would cut more from them and would impart those funds on a program that between fiscal year 2004 and the current fiscal year has experienced a net budget authority increase of $2 billion, a 121 percent increase, and over the same time period, direct appropriations increases of over $1 billion, or 75 percent. Implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2010 would require an additional $1.4 billion in new budget authority. If the President's budget request were adopted, the result would be a 156 percent increase for FDA since 2004.

This level of spending is unsustainable. While the recommended funding level for FDA in this bill is an 11.5 percent decrease below the amount provided in the fiscal year 2011 continuing resolution, the subcommittee's overall allocation was reduced by 13.4 percent. Hence, this program suffered a smaller reduction than other programs within the budget.

Once again, with these massive increases in budget authority and in actual spending through direct appropriations over the time period 2004 and the current fiscal year, Mr. Chairman, and given the fact that ag credit and rural housing have already taken the types of deep cuts that are referenced in the rest of the bill, I urge my colleagues to defeat the amendment.

I yield back the balance of my time.

Mr. PALLONE. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the last word.

The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman from New Jersey is recognized for 5 minutes.

Mr. PALLONE. I rise in support of the Dingell amendment to partially restore the Food and Drug Administration funding to the fiscal year 2012 agriculture appropriations bill.

I listened to what my colleagues said on the other side of the aisle. The fact of the matter is that today's bill slashes the FDA by $572 million, or 21 percent, below the President's request, and by $285 million, or 12 percent, below this year.

I beg to differ with the gentlewoman. This is not the time to be cutting the FDA's budget. We have had many scares. We have had many outbreaks. We have had people die. We have had people become seriously ill. That is why in the last Congress we passed the landmark Food Safety Act, because we wanted to have increased inspection of food manufacturing plants, increased scrutiny of imported foods, and development of the capability to more quickly respond to food-borne illnesses and minimize their impact.

I don't know about you, but when I go home, I hear a great deal of concern about the quality and the safety of our food supply and our groceries. When people buy food in the supermarket, when they go and buy it at a roadside stand, they are very concerned about the quality of the food and whether they are going to get sick. That is why we passed the landmark Food Safety Act. It is clear that we have just recently had the E. Coli breakout. The Nation's food supply is so extremely vulnerable, and the FDA must be equipped to keep it safe.

The FDA has important responsibilities to protect and promote the health of the American people. To succeed in that mission, FDA must ensure the safety of not just food, but drugs and medical devices that Americans rely on every day. They don't just need to oversee the safety of the products. They also need to be involved in facilitating scientific innovation that makes these products safe, effective, and more affordable.

Now, these efforts are especially critical today because I believe that American competitiveness depends on our ability to innovate. To do that, we must properly fund key agencies like the FDA that are essential to assisting in the development of new drugs and devices. FDA places a high importance on promoting innovation. In fact, they are currently developing a new Innovation Pathway, an initiative to help promising technologies get to market. But let me share something with my colleagues. One of the FDA's senior leadership staff testified before the Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee recently and assured us that these cuts would prevent such efforts from moving forward.

What I am trying to emphasize is that whether you look at it from the point of view of the food supply, whether you look at it from the point of view of innovation, to make cuts in the FDA budget simply makes no sense.

It is crucial to job creation. It is crucial to people feeling safe about what they eat, and the government has to be responsible for facilitating an environment where Americans can continue to innovate. It is a key to creating new thriving industries that will produce millions of good jobs here at home and a better future for the next generation. If government abandons its role, we run the real risk of squandering too many opportunities that lead to innovative discoveries and great economic benefits.

Mr. Chairman, the bottom line is the funding level put forth in today's appropriations bill is inadequate. FDA is already an underfunded agency. If we don't continue to give the FDA the resources it needs to complete its mission, they cannot support initiatives that save lives and create jobs; and these are priorities that Congress should embrace.

I listened to what my colleagues say on the other side of the aisle. I understand we have to be concerned about funding and budgets and that we have a deficit. We also have to figure out what is important as a priority. The American people have told us that food safety is a priority. That is why we passed this landmark bill last year.

There has to be a significant increase in funds, even in this environment, if we are going to keep the food supply safe. If we don't do that, a lot of economic activity is also going to suffer, including innovation, including what we can do for the future to keep this country competitive. So I understand what she is saying, but I also think that it is very important to restore these funds.

I want to commend my colleague, Mr. Dingell, for putting forth this amendment, and I would ask my colleagues to support the amendment.

I yield back the balance of my time.

Mr. KINGSTON. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of words.

The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman from Georgia is recognized for 5 minutes.

Mr. KINGSTON. I stand in opposition to the amendment, but with great admiration for the author of the amendment--but still disagreement.

Now, the previous speaker actually said that FDA funding has been slashed. FDA is funded both with direct appropriations and with fees. Last year, their funding level was $3.6 billion. This year, it is $3.64 billion. It is a little bit more. I would say it is level funding. But FDA funding has not been slashed, and it is very important for us to realize that.

Number two, let me show you something about the FDA funding history, Mr. Chairman. If you can see this, this chart actually goes back to 2000 and goes up to 2011. It has been nothing but a 10-year climb uphill for the FDA. And while a lot of people are saying the FDA funding is slashed, there is not even a slight dip in any of this 10-year funding chart. It is very important for us to realize that.

Now, the second point is, in the FDA hearing, I was concerned about FDA's ability to do food safety and to take on this big mission. Here is why:

You hear the figure of about 48 million foodborne illnesses--a very high number which we are enormously concerned about--but 20 percent of those illnesses are from known, or specified, pathogens. Nearly 60 percent of the illnesses from known pathogens comes from the Norovirus. So how do we address this?

The CDC tells us on their March 4 memo that appropriate hand hygiene is likely the most important method to prevent the Norovirus infection and to control transmission. Reducing any Norovirus present on hands is best accomplished by thorough handwashing. Now, in the FDA's 630-page budget request, there is not one mention of Norovirus. I believe that that's relevant.

The second point: The second highest cause of illness is salmonella; but under its authority, the existing authority, before the Food Safety Modernization Act was passed by the House, the FDA updated its own food safety as respect to salmonella. They are saying--and this was according to their own press release in July of last year--that as many as 79,000 illnesses and 30 deaths due to the consumption of eggs contaminated with salmonella may be avoided. That was last year. That was before a new bureaucracy. This bureaucracy, by the way, over a 10-year period of time, will cost $1.4 billion and will hire 17,000 new Federal employees.

The third highest cause of foodborne illnesses is clostridium. Again, in the FDA's 630-page budget request, it was only mentioned once.

I want to say something else that is very important. Do we believe that McDonald's and Kentucky Fried Chicken and Safeway and Kraft Foods--and any brand name that you can think of--aren't concerned about food safety? The food supply in America is very safe as the private sector self-polices because they have the highest motivation. They don't want to be sued. They don't want to go broke. They want their customers to be healthy and happy and to come back and give them repeat business.

Now, in response to the 2006 E. coli outbreak that happened in California with spinach, where three people died and 200 consumers were sickened, the California Leafy Green Products Handler Marketing Agreement was made. This is a private sector agreement which has done already 2,000 farm audits on a voluntary basis. Nearly 200 billion servings of lettuce and spinach and other leafy greens produced under this program have been surveyed. It is a successful private sector initiative, and those types of things happen all
the time in the private sector, but we're blind to it.

Here are some numbers from the CDC. It's very important because I think America loves to beat itself up over things all the time. The CDC numbers, Mr. Chairman: There are 48 million foodborne illnesses reported a year, 128,000 hospitalizations, 3,000 deaths. Those numbers are very high. I'm very concerned about it. That's why we spend a lot of money already on food safety.

I yield back the balance of my time.

Mr. CONAWAY. I move to strike the last word.

The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman from Texas is recognized for 5 minutes.

Mr. CONAWAY. Mr. Chairman, I yield to my colleague from Georgia (Mr. Kingston).

Mr. KINGSTON. I thank the gentleman for yielding.

I just want to continue with this, Mr. Chairman.

You have 311 million Americans eating three meals a day. That's 933 million meals eaten each day. That's nearly 1 billion food consumption events in our country, which is over 360 billion meals consumed. If you do the math in going back to the 48 million foodborne illnesses, according to the USDA, our food safety rate is 99.99 percent.

I want to address the 48 million, but what I also suggest to you is that we can spend $45 million more for FDA funding; we can spend $100 million more or we can spend $1 billion more, but I don't think you can increase this number of a 99.99 percent food safety rate according to the CDC. So, in these times of very tight budgets, it is very important to keep these facts in mind.

I am going to close with this statement by the Democrat Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, and this was as of yesterday. He said he is ``reasonably confident'' that U.S. consumers won't be faced with the same sort of E. coli outbreak now plaguing Germany. He goes on and explains why--because of the current food safety laws in place and the current food safety funding.

Mr. CONAWAY. I yield back the balance of my time.

Mr. FARR. I move to strike the last word.

The Acting CHAIR (Mr. Dold). The gentleman from California is recognized for 5 minutes.

Mr. FARR. I yield to the chairman, the gentleman from Michigan (Mr. Dingell).

Mr. DINGELL. I thank my good friend for yielding to me.

I want to thank my colleagues on both sides of the Appropriations Committee and their extraordinary staffs for their courtesy to me as we have gone on through this legislation and through the discussion of this amendment.

I've listened to my Republican colleagues tell us how great we're doing. My good friend, for whom I have enormous fondness, presents us with a bunch of pictures of food. It looks great. Maybe it's safe and maybe it's not. He has got a bunch of numbers that say that it's 99.99 percent safe. That sounds wonderful.

But what are the real facts? All right.

The real facts are that, at the time that this cut is going into place on Food and Drug's budget, 3,300 people have been sickened in Germany with a particularly dangerous form of E. coli, and 30 people are dead. It is spreading across the German borders into other countries.

Now, how are we doing over here?

First of all, Food and Drug has been starved of resources for years and has not been able to provide the necessary protection to the American people from imported food, which is coming in and is, frankly, sickening people.

What is the situation? Salmonella and peanuts, bad mushrooms from China, E. coli in peppers coming in from Mexico, melamine in dairy products. It kills kids. It kills babies. It causes all manner of health risks and dangers.

There are bad pharmaceuticals coming in. We haven't been able to get ahold of that problem yet, but I'm going to try and get a bill that will address that; and I'm going to try and see to it that we get a fee system that will enable us to not have to quarrel about these moneys on the House floor.

But in this country, let's look. If this is going so well and if the Secretary of Agriculture is so right and if my dear friend from Georgia is correct, then there is really nothing to worry about; and I would like somebody around here to tell me what I'm then going to tell the 3,000 people who are killed in this country by bad food every single year. 128,000 of them are sick enough that they have to go to hospitals. On top of that, 48 million people get sick.

There is no way on God's green Earth, with the budget that Food and Drug has, that they can properly and adequately protect American food and protect the American people from the dangers of bad imported food. China is the Wild West. The stuff that they're exporting to the United States, quite frankly, I'm not sure I'd feed my hogs.

Having said these things, it is time for us to stand up to the problem and to say, Okay. We're going to spend the money that's necessary to keep people safe. We are talking about $49 million here. A lot of money. But how much do you think it takes to bury 3,000 Americans? How much does it cost to take care of 128,000 people who are hospitalized every year because of this? or to take care of the 48 million people who get sick? and the mothers who lose babies because of bad milk and things of that kind that come in from China, where they put melamine in them to up the fictitious levels of nitrogen and protein?

So I beg you, let us do what is necessary to see to it that Food and Drug has the funds that they need to do the job to protect the American people.

* [Begin Insert]

Mr. DINGELL. Mr. Chair, I have an amendment at the desk. This legislation before us would cut the food safety budget of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) by $87 million below FY 2011 and $205 million below the president's FY 2012 budget request. At a time when we are witnessing one of the deadliest E. coli outbreaks ever overseas in Europe, the House stands ready to cut funding for our food safety systems. This is indefensible and why I am offering an amendment that will which takes $49 million from several administrative accounts at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and transfers them to FDA for the implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), of which I am the author. Specifically, this amendment cuts $5 million from the Departmental Administration account, $20 million from the Agriculture Buildings and Facilities and Rental Payments account, $10 million from administrative expenses under the Agricultural Credit Insurance Fund, $4 million from administrative expenses under the Rural Housing Insurance Fund, and $10 million from the Foreign Agricultural Service.

I want to make clear that the offsets I am offering are difficult, and not accounts which I would cut in normal circumstances. However, these are not normal circumstances, and the draconian cuts already made by this legislation to the food safety budget leave me with no other choice. The cuts to the USDA General Administration Account and to the Buildings and Administration Account are certainly damaging. I believe in the good work USDA is doing to promote agriculture in this nation, but these specific accounts did not receive as large a cut as others. The safety of our nation's food supply must take priority over these administrative accounts.

Furthermore, the cut to the Agricultural Credit Insurance Fund, which provides loans to farmers when they can not obtain them in the private sector, will be taken from an administrative account which will not affect the loan levels to farmers in need. The cut to the Rural Housing Insurance Fund, which guarantees some rural housing loans, will also be taken from an administrative account which will not impact the loan level. Finally, while I am supportive of the Foreign Agricultural Service and their work to promote agricultural exports overseas and their international development efforts, I believe the American people would agree that at a time when we recently had a recent scare with Salmonella in eggs and authorities have agreed that the E. coli outbreak which is impacting Europe could happen here, our priority must be on the safety of our own food supply.

I want to make it very clear that the money given to FDA by my amendment is intended for their food safety activities. Last Congress when this institution overwhelmingly passed the Food Safety Enhancement Act, it had bipartisan support, the support of consumer groups, food safety groups and industry, and a guaranteed source of funding for food safety activities. The food safety reform law gives FDA the tools it needs to prevent and detect food-borne illnesses--like the E. coli outbreak in Germany--from occurring.

Under this new law, the FDA has the authority to recall food products, to require food facilities to have safety plans to identify and mitigate risks, and to increase the frequency of FDA inspections of facilities here and
abroad. Unfortunately, a dedicated fee to fund the changes to our food system was dropped by my friends in the Senate and now we are witnessing a perfect storm--because of the political whims of my colleagues we are limiting the funding available for food safety activities at the same time the FDA has the responsibility to begin implementation of the historic food safety law.

Year after year we witness devastating outbreaks that sicken or kill innocent people. We have seen E. coli in peppers, Salmonella in peanuts, melamine in milk--the list goes on. A fee system is not a radical concept. The drug industry pays a user fee dedicated to assisting the FDA with the review of new drug applications and the medical device industry pays a user fee dedicated to the review of marketing applications. Such a fee guarantees that the FDA has a source of funding dedicated to their review process free from political posturing.

We can all agree that we must reduce our budget deficit and that all options to cut spending must be on the table. However, at a time when we are witnessing the latest E. coli outbreak in Europe sicken nearly 3,200 people and kill 33, it is unconscionable that we would cut funding from the agency whose responsibility it is to prevent such food-borne illnesses here in the United States.

I urge my colleagues to vote in favor of my amendment restoring funding to the FDA for their food safety activities.

* [End Insert]

Mr. FARR. I yield back the balance of my time.

The Acting CHAIR. The question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman from Michigan (Mr. Dingell).

The question was taken; and the Acting Chair announced that the noes appeared to have it.

Mr. DINGELL. Mr. Chairman, I demand a recorded vote.

The Acting CHAIR. Pursuant to clause 6 of rule XVIII, further proceedings on the amendment offered by the gentleman from Michigan will be postponed.


Mr. CHAFFETZ. Mr. Chairman, I have an amendment at the desk.

The Acting CHAIR. The Clerk will designate the amendment.

The text of the amendment is as follows:

At the end of the bill (before the short title), insert the following:

Sec. __. None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to pay the salaries and expenses of personnel who provide nonrecourse marketing assistance loans for mohair under section 1201 of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008. (7 U.S.C. 8731).

The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman from Utah is recognized for 5 minutes.

Mr. CHAFFETZ. Mr. Chairman, this is a simple amendment to limit the subsidies for mohair.

Mohair is something that back in World War II we needed for our military uniforms. The problem is we haven't used mohair in our military uniforms since the Korean war, and yet the subsidies still continue. So this is a commonsense amendment to simply limit this. This is roughly $1 million a year. This is something that Congresses previously had eliminated. It crept back in.

And this limitation amendment that I would offer, I would urge my colleagues to vote for. My understanding is there's no opposition on either side of the aisle.

I yield back the balance of my time.

Mr. KINGSTON. Mr. Chairman, I support the amendment.

The Acting CHAIR. The question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman from Utah (Mr. Chaffetz).

The amendment was agreed to.


Mr. CHAFFETZ. Mr. Chairman, I have an amendment at the desk.

The Acting CHAIR. The Clerk will designate the amendment.

The text of the amendment is as follows:

At the end of the bill (before the short title), insert the following:

Sec. __. None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to make (or to pay the salaries and expenses of personnel in the Department of Agriculture to make) payments for the storage of cotton under section 1204(g) of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (7 U.S.C. 8734(g)) or for the storage of peanuts under section 1307(a) of such Act (7 U.S.C. 8757(a)).

The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman from Utah is recognized for 5 minutes.

Mr. CHAFFETZ. I would hope this body would take this amendment with the same pace we did the mohair subsidies, but perhaps not.

This amendment seeks to eliminate the cotton and peanut storage payments that we have been making. I would point out to my colleagues that President Obama recommended terminating this program in his fiscal 2012 budget. No other agriculture commodities receive this type of assistance.

I would like to read a paragraph that's found on the Web site:

The credits allow producers to store their cotton and peanuts at the government's cost until prices rise. Therefore, storage credits have a negative impact on the amount of commodities on the market. Because storage is covered by the government, producers may store their commodities for longer than necessary. There is no reason the government should be paying for the storage of cotton or peanuts, particularly since it does not provide this assistance for any other commodities.

I happen to concur with the President on this. I hope my colleagues would find this to be a commonsense amendment to say we should not be specifying winners and losers. In this particular case, we're going to offer a storage credit for just cotton and just peanuts. It's something that I think should be eliminated. I would hope the body would concur. I would hope we would understand we're going to have to make some changes in the way we do things. This is one instance where I actually agree with the President. I'm proud to stand in support of that and would encourage my colleagues to support this amendment.

I yield back the balance of my time.

Mr. BARROW. I move to strike the last word.

The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman from Georgia is recognized for 5 minutes.

Mr. BARROW. Mr. Chairman, I rise in opposition to the gentleman's amendment to eliminate storage and handling payments for cotton and peanuts.

I represent a lot of producers of these commodities, and I guess it makes me a little bit more sensitive to why storage and handling is an important part of our agricultural policy and why this amendment could have potentially devastating impacts if allowed to become law.

I believe it's in the best interest of our country to support domestic agriculture. If you think our reliance on foreign oil is a nightmare, imagine what it would be like if we had to rely that much on foreign sources of food and fiber. For that reason, it has been the policy of the Congress for decades to provide a safety net to help protect domestic farmers where prices are low and world markets are unfavorable.

If you represent farm country or if you've ever worked on a farm bill, you have some idea of what a delicate balance it can be to use the different tools at our disposal to craft a law that meets the needs of farmers and consumers. Different commodities have different economies. Prices sometimes swing wildly. Sometimes, even biological differences need to be accounted for.

For example, if peanuts are not stored correctly, they can develop toxicity that renders them not only useless, but dangerous, to the consumer. Storage and handling assistance has been developed as an efficient policy for peanuts because it not only gives the farmer some latitude about how long he can store his crops, but it also improves food safety for the public.

Mr. Chairman, I was on the Ag Committee back in 2008 when we crafted the last farm bill. It's been the law of the land since then and will continue to be until next year. It's the basis on which every farmer has planned during that time. This amendment creates uncertainty for those farmers. It threatens their jobs, and it threatens the domestic production the rest of us depend on.

I believe this amendment is bad policy, and I urge my colleagues to reject it.

With that, I yield back the balance of my time.

Mr. CONAWAY. I move to strike the last word.

The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman from Texas is recognized for 5 minutes.

Mr. CONAWAY. I also oppose the amendment.

This amendment does not save one nickel in fiscal 2012. It's a bit theater. And unlike mohair, peanuts and cotton have a little different circumstances. The storage that is talked about here is only paid if the prices for these two commodities drops below their loan rate. CBO does not estimate this to happen for the next decade in terms of these prices. The loan rates are substantially below where the current prices are. That means the producers pay for these storage costs as these products are moved to market.

So this amendment, while we debate it for some 15 to 20 minutes, will cost more to debate than it will save for the taxpayers. It is an integral part of the safety net that these producers rely upon.

You've heard this over and over tonight: The Ag Committee is best suited to develop a proper safety net and an ag policy for this country. This country has had an ag policy from its inception. We ought to stand by that ag policy once it's put in place. We put it in place in 2008. Many tradeoffs were made between conservation programs, commodity programs. Cotton and peanuts were in the mix.

We will have those exact same conversations this time next year. The farm bill will come to the floor, and those who disagree with the farm policy that's developed in the Ag Committee will have ample opportunity to come to this floor and make these arguments once again. But to do this in an appropriations bill in basically a drive-by shooting manner, in my view, is wrongheaded. We ought to trust that the Ag Committee will get this work done and get it done properly.

The 2008 farm bill was put in place. Ag producers across this country, bankers across this country, implement dealers across this country have looked at that as a deal. Most folks in the business world don't back up on a deal when they don't have to. And we don't have to in this particular instance because, as I said at the start of this, it does not cost the taxpayer any money as long as prices are high. CBO and most folks estimate that in the near term the prices will not drop below 18 cents a pound for peanuts or 52 cents a pound for cotton.

So I respectfully disagree with my colleague's attempt to alter the farm bill in this way, in an appropriations bill, and I would ask my colleagues to oppose the amendment.

I yield back the balance of my time.

Mr. BISHOP of Georgia. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the last word.

The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman is recognized for 5 minutes.

Mr. BISHOP of Georgia. I think this amendment is very, very ill advised.

Storage and handling fees are an integral part of the peanut program and the cotton program. Removal of these fees will strike against the growers, the farmers' bottom line. The current marketing loan rate is $355 per ton. There has been no increase in the peanut loan rate, which is the safety net, since the 2002 farm bill. With the new farm bill expected to take place next year, it's unfair for the program to change dramatically in this final year of the 2008 farm bill.

Peanut growers changed their program from a supply-management program, in 2002, to a marketing loan program. We eliminated the old quota system. This included a price reduction from $610 per ton to $355 per ton marketing loan. The growers will lose even more if the program suffers another $50 per ton reduction due to the elimination of the storage and handling fees.

Peanuts are a semiperishable commodity. This is different from corn, from wheat and other commodities. It is economically unfeasible for producers to store their peanuts on the farm like other commodities such as corn and wheat. Peanuts need a secure and an atmospheric-controlled environment. Peanuts require intense and constant management in the warehouse storage, which a farmer does not have the skills to do.

Without proper management, a farmer's peanuts could go from what is known as a Seg 1 loan price, which is the best, to a Seg 3 loan price, which is contamination due to aflatoxin.

Elimination of the storage and handling program could certainly impact food safety, the safety of the product.

Shellers basically control over 75 percent of the peanuts after the peanuts leave the farmer's control. Since peanuts are semi-perishable and due to the highly concentrated shelling industry, farmers are at the mercy of the shellers in terms of pricing. Shellers could possibly force the farmer to accept a lower price that would cover the storage and handling cost. Farmers then have no alternative in selling their peanuts. That eliminates the competitive edge.

This could effectively lower the loan rate to producers, as I said, by $50 a ton. The storage and handling program has effectively been a no-net-cost program to the government. Thus, the elimination of it will not help to reduce the Federal deficit.

Again, we are here about to pull the rug out from under farmers who have relied upon what this Congress and what this government has done in setting farm policy starting from 2008 to 2012. Why would we come at this point and pull the rug out from under them and upset all of their plans? Many times they have made loans, they've had to purchase equipment, and particularly throughout the Southeast, the equipment that is required for southeastern peanut growers and southeastern farmers is varied. We've got a broad portfolio, unlike the Midwest. We grow multiple crops.

In the Southeast, from Virginia all the way to Texas, you will find that farmers will grow corn; they will grow grain, of course; they'll grow peanuts; they'll grow soybeans; and they'll grow cotton. Each of those commodities at least will require three different kinds of equipment, and the combines and the equipment for cotton costs anywhere from $250,000 to $350,000. Other equipment for peanuts, for grain, $150,000, $500,000.

This is going to undermine the bottom line, it's going to remove the competitive edge that American peanut growers have, and it's going to devastate our ability to maintain the highest quality, the safest, and the most economical peanuts anywhere in the world.

I think this is very, very ill-advised. I think it will undermine American agriculture. It will lessen our food security, and certainly that is the last thing that we need to do because we are already energy insecure.

I yield back the balance of my time.

The Acting CHAIR. The question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman from Utah (Mr. Chaffetz).

The amendment was rejected.


Ms. JACKSON LEE of Texas. I have an amendment at the desk.

The Acting CHAIR. The Clerk will report the amendment.

The Clerk read as follows:

Page 80, after line 2, insert the following:

SEC. __X. The amounts otherwise provided by this Act are revised by reducing the amount made available for ``Agriculture Buildings and Facilities and Rental Payments'' by $13,000,000, and increasing the amount made available for the ``Office of the Secretary,'' by $5,000,000.

The Acting CHAIR. The gentlewoman is recognized for 5 minutes.

Ms. JACKSON LEE of Texas. I thank the Chairman, and I thank the Agriculture appropriations subcommittee for their kindness and their deliberateness in this very long evening and as well the ranking member along with the chairman.

This is a simple amendment about food and about helping more Americans get healthy food. There is not one of us that does not understand how dry and difficult a desert is. This amendment is simply about food deserts in rural and urban areas.

This amendment provides a $5 million increase to the Office of the Secretary to allow assistance to provide relief to those who are suffering from the lack of access to food quality.

This is a healthy child, we would hope. That healthy child needs to have good food. These funds will increase the availability of affordable healthy food in underserved urban and rural communities, particularly through the development or equipping of grocery stores and other healthy food retailers.

Fast-food restaurants and convenience stores line the blocks of low-income neighborhoods, offering few if any healthy options. In rural areas, there may be no access at all. This particularly impacts African American and Hispanic communities and, as I indicated, rural communities.

This climate in the difficult times that we have requires us to be able to
allow families to have access to good food. We also have the issues of obesity and as well nutrition. Food deserts impact many districts, and I will say to you that Texas in particular has fewer grocery stores per capita than any other State.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 32 percent of all children in Texas face a nutrition issue. Targeting assistance to food desert areas will provide healthy food to affected areas, open new markets for farmers, create jobs, and bolster development in distressed communities.

Farmers markets are a good idea, but farmers markets sometimes are difficult to find in our communities. Again, let me emphasize, this is about rural and urban areas. This initiative will provide for the availability of healthy food alternatives to some 23 million people living in food deserts.

Let me just suggest to you that these families that we care for, families, young families of the military, many of you have heard stories where the military families are on food stamps. Many of them live in areas beyond their bases, and some of their families are back home in rural and urban areas. This amendment, which will provide an $8 million gift back to the government, will give a mere $5 million to provide the opportunity for those food desert loopholes, if you will--rural places in our Nation where there are big gaps with access to food, and as well urban areas--to have access to the opportunity for good and healthy food.

With that, I yield back the balance of my time and ask my colleagues to support the Jackson Lee amendment that addresses the question of helping those who need healthy food.

* [Begin Insert]

I thank the Chairman for this opportunity to explain my amendment to H.R. 2112, which will reach back into the bill to increase the funding for the Office of the Secretary by $5 million dollars. This increase, provided for by reducing the funding for operations and maintenance of Buildings and Facilities in order to fund President Obama's Healthy Food Funding Initiative, HFFI. Supporting this amendment will not only fund an important pilot program, but save the government $8 million.

Funding HFFI will increase the availability of affordable, healthy foods in underserved urban and rural communities, particularly through the development or equipping of grocery stores and other healthy food retailers.

These ``food deserts'', communities in which residents do not have access to affordable and healthy food options, disproportionally affect African American and Hispanic communities. Fast food restaurants and convenience stores line the blocks of low income neighborhoods, offering few, if any healthy options.

Many of my colleagues across the aisle have made arguments about the economic climate, and the need for budgetary cuts, and I agree that we must work to reduce the deficit. We cannot, however, continue to make irresponsible cuts to programs for the underserved, lower income families, and minorities.

Since the mid-1970s, the prevalence of overweight and obesity has increased sharply for both adults and children, and obesity is a grave health concern for all Americans. However, food deserts have taken a toll on low income and minority communities and exacerbated growing obesity rates and health problems.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC, 80 percent of black women and 67 percent of black men are overweight or obese. African American children from low income families have a much higher risk for obesity than those in higher income families.

The CDC also estimates African American and Mexican American adolescents ages 12-19 are more likely to be overweight, at 21 percent and 23 percent respectively, than non-Hispanic white adolescents who are 14 percent overweight. In children 6-11 years old, 22 percent of Mexican American children are overweight, compared to 20 percent of African American children and 14 percent of non-Hispanic white children.

Food deserts have greatly impacted my constituents in the 18th Congressional District, and citizens throughout the state of Texas. Texas has fewer grocery stores per capita than any other state. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, USDA, identified 92 food desert census tracts in Harris County alone. These areas are subdivisions of the county with between 1,000 to 8,000 low income residents, with 33 percent of people living more than a mile from a grocery store.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 32 percent of all children in Texas are overweight or obese. These statistics underscore the staggering affect food deserts have on the health of low income and minority communities. In Houston and other cities across the country, local programs have proved that well targeted funding and assistance can create viable business outcomes and increase access to healthy food.

Targeting federal financial assistance to food desert areas through the Healthy Food Funding Initiative will provide more healthy food to affected neighborhoods, open new markets for farmers, create jobs, and bolster development in distressed communities.

The Healthy Food Funding Initiative is not a handout, or a crutch. Funding through this program is intended to provide financial and technical assistance in support of market planning, promotion efforts, infrastructure and operational improvements, and increase availability of locally and regionally produced foods.

This initiative will increase the availability of healthy food alternatives to the 23.5 million people living in food deserts nationwide. Yes, we must work toward reducing the deficit, but cutting programs that provide healthy food to those who simply do not have access to nutritional options, is not the way.

* [End Insert]

Mr. KINGSTON. Mr. Chair, I rise in opposition to the amendment.

The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman from Georgia is recognized for 5 minutes.

Mr. KINGSTON. My dear friend from Texas has worked diligently to find something to work out with this. As I had indicated to her last night, we're trying to work on some alternatives and see if there's a way to do it. Just in the last 30 minutes, I've gotten something from GAO that says that you could actually cut out $45 million dollars from this program and that it would not affect the potential of it.

Right now what I will do--and I know my friend from California is rising. Let me yield to him because I know he probably has a different view, but I want to kind of keep the debate going.

Mr. FARR. Go ahead. I'll just strike the last word.

Mr. KINGSTON. Well, you've got 4 minutes from me. You could still strike the last word. That gives you 9 minutes.

Mr. FARR. Mr. Chairman, thank you.

I have concerns about where the money comes from as all these bills are offsetting, but I think that the purpose here should be funded. We have this whole initiative--and some of it has been attacked tonight--about trying to get healthy foods grown by American farmers to people in areas that are called food deserts, as the gentlelady from Texas pointed out. There are places that people just can't go. There isn't a grocery store. There aren't fresh fruits and vegetables.

I mean, think of the 7-Eleven. That's the kind of convenience stores that are around. Even the one we use up here a couple of blocks away is very limited in the amount of fresh fruits and vegetables it has.

So what this initiative is all about, and it's the President's initiative too, is trying to get food--it's an educational process. I think the hardest cultural--this is what I learned from living in other cultures in the Peace Corps. The hardest thing to do is to get people to change their eating habits. We all know that struggle when we go on a diet. So it takes a lot of education. It takes a lot of support, but it also takes the need to have access to it.

You need to have access to the fresh fruits and vegetables, and they can either come to you in a farmers market or you can go to them. But if you have neither a farmers market and there's nothing to go to, you have no option. And that's what this amendment is about, getting some money into the program that will be able to outreach and getting good, nutritious food to families who most need it who, without that, have a good chance of not growing up healthy, high incidence of obesity, high incidence of diabetes, high-risk issues that cost a lot of money for the taxpayers when they have to go on dialysis or have to be under treatment.

So we have spent many years here in the committee--and the chairman knows it very well--of looking at how do we prevent this from happening when the choices are there. These are preventable diseases and preventable ill health situations, but we've got to reach out and do it, and that's what this amendment does and I think it deserves support.

Mr. KINGSTON. If I could reclaim my time, I want to read this quote from GAO. It says: The committee may wish to consider reducing the request for this initiative for FY 12 by $45 million until the effectiveness of these
demonstration projects has been established.

And I want to say to my friend from Texas, we had some talks around this but not directly addressing it, not direct hearing; but I do remember and the gentleman from California might and I think Ms. Foley might remember that the Safeway in Washington, D.C., I believe has some sort of grant I believe to operate in an area that was considered a food desert, and I believe that that is one of the most profitable Safeways there is. Do either of you have a recollection of that? Thank you for pulling the rug out from underneath me this early.

Mr. FARR. I have a recollection of that.

Mr. KINGSTON. Do you remember that, Mr. Farr, that discussion?

Mr. FARR. Yes.

Mr. KINGSTON. Was that not about food deserts?

Mr. FARR. Yes, it was. But remember Ms. Kaptur's amendment in our committee of trying to subsidize farmers markets to go into high-risk areas to get it started so that it does develop a market approach and can be sustainable, but we reach out and do those kinds of things.

Mr. KINGSTON. Let me reclaim my time. GAO reported that a variety of approaches, including improving access to targeted foods, have the potential to increase the consumption of targeted food that could contribute to a healthy diet, but little is known about the effectiveness of these approaches.

And so I think what I would like to do, Mr. Chairman, is continue to oppose this; but knowing my good friend from Texas and from California will keep this as a priority, we'll talk about this. You know, the hour's late. The gentlewoman's been working on this for a long time, but I need a little more focus on it before I could accept it.

The Acting CHAIR. The time of the gentleman has expired.

Mr. FARR. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the last word.

The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman from California is recognized for 5 minutes.

Mr. FARR. I yield to the gentlewoman from Texas (Ms. Jackson Lee).

Ms. JACKSON LEE of Texas. First of all, let me thank Mr. Farr and Mr. Kingston. I had hoped my friend from Georgia could see in his heart that this is a very small microcosm for a very large issue, and that is that food deserts do exist and the families that are impacted, number of families that include those who are members of the United States military from the very youngest child.

I have been fiscally responsible, if that is the case, to narrow this very well, and I have no quarrel with individual chains engaging in marketing outreach. But I'm talking about hard-to-serve areas that include urban and rural areas where there are no food chains to engage in any benevolent assistance.

I'm also suggesting to you that if you look at the landscape of districts across the Nation, just take for example my district is number 32 in regards to food insecurity, but there are 31 above me. The people have limited access to food.

I enjoy the point that Mr. Farr made about Ms. Kaptur's farmers markets. This will infuse energy into the farmers markets. This will create jobs for a limited amount of pilot resources. This is the right thing to do. This is to take a great land like America and say we want everybody to minimally have access to good, healthy, nutritious food.

So I would ask for the humanitarian consideration of my friends on the other side of the aisle. I thank the gentleman from California for his instructiveness and the work of the members of this Appropriations Committee, and I ask my colleagues to support this amendment, the Jackson Lee amendment. It fills the gaping hole of the lack of food by providing resources to cure the problem of food deserts.

Mr. FARR. I yield back the balance of my time, Mr. Chairman.

The Acting CHAIR. The question is on the amendment offered by the gentlewoman from Texas (Ms. Jackson Lee).

The question was taken; and the Acting Chair announced that the noes appeared to have it.

Ms. JACKSON LEE of Texas. Mr. Chairman, I demand a recorded vote.

The Acting CHAIR. Pursuant to clause 6 of rule XVIII, further proceedings on the amendment offered by the gentlewoman from Texas will be postponed.


Mr. GIBSON. Mr. Chairman, I have an amendment at the desk.

The Acting CHAIR. The Clerk will designate the amendment.

The text of the amendment is as follows:

Page 80, after line 2, insert the following:

Sec. __X. For the cost of broadband loans, as authorized by section 601 of the Rural Electrification Act of 1936, to remain available until expended, there is hereby appropriated, and the amount otherwise provided by this Act for payments to the General Services Administration for rent under the heading ``Agriculture Buildings and Facilities and Rental Payments'' is hereby reduced by, $6,000,000.

The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman from New York is recognized for 5 minutes.

Mr. GIBSON. Mr. Chairman, over 50 congressional districts across our country have at least 10 percent of their population without access to high-speed broadband. My district is one of these over-50 districts. Now, this is a significant impediment to job creation. We have farmers without access to the high-speed broadband. We have many small businesses in our districts, including bed and breakfasts which impact our tourism without that access. This amendment helps address this situation.

Now, the underlying bill zeroes out the loan program for rural broadband. This is down from $22.3 million that we just closed out a few months ago for FY 11, and with a healthy respect for the leadership of the Agricultural appropriations subcommittee, I think this is a mistake.

I know that there have been issues with this program in the past. I have read the IG report. I will also say that my understanding is the administration has made progress since the publishing of that report. One of the things that has been said about this program is it has not been able to address the significant volume of requests, and I think it's important to note that in March 2011 they cleared the backlog of all the applications for the program; and, in fact, there's now up to $100 million in new loan applications, showing the interest in this program.

Another criticism has been that this program is duplicative and that, in fact, you can apply under telemedicine for rural areas. And I will tell you that we have tried that in our district with no success, and this program that I'm offering as an amendment today for $6 million, a loan program, fully offset, is the only program exclusively dedicated to rural broadband. And this program, this amendment, $6 million can give us access to and support over $100 million in loan applications.

Mr. Chairman, this amendment will help create jobs, and it will help our farmers with profitability. Of course, I'm biased. But I believe we've got the smartest, the hardest working farmers in the world. Their issue is profitability, and this amendment will help.

The CBO assesses this amendment as neutral, and it says that it will reduce outlays by $2 million in 2012. Let me say that again. CBO says this amendment will reduce outlays by $2 million in 2012.

So how do we offset this? How do we provide access for farmers and small businesses to loan programs? We cut the Federal bureaucracy--$6 million in office rental payments.

Now, the USDA is blessed with some of the most significant office space among all the Federal bureaucracy. And in addition to what they have here in the District, in Beltsville, Maryland, there is additional office space of which they possess. So on top of all of that, there is $151 million in this appropriations bill for the rental of office space, including right here on M Street in Washington, D.C. This is a good pay-for to give access to our farmers so that they can have access to rural broadband.

So to all my colleagues, I say this is a good amendment. The only amendment that provides exclusive rural broadband access. It's supported by the American Farm Bureau. It's supported by the New York State Farm Bureau and numerous chambers of commerce in my district. I urge my colleagues to support the amendment.

I would like to yield to my good friend and colleague from Arizona (Mr. Gosar).

Mr. GOSAR. I thank the gentleman for yielding.


The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman will suspend.

The gentleman from New York must remain on his feet.

Mr. GOSAR. I rise in support of the amendment proposed by Mr. Gibson and Mr. Owens because I think it is exactly what the American people want us to do here in Washington. The people expect us to be responsible with their tax money. The people have made it clear, more than clear, that the Federal Government is too big. Our job is to look for waste, inefficiencies, and bloat. The Gibson-Owens amendment has found such bloat and seeks to remedy it.

There is no doubt that the USDA does good work and that the agency should have suitable workspace to conduct its work. Indeed, as Mr. Gibson has pointed out, the USDA has 3 million square feet of prime office space on The National Mall in a beautiful building that contributes to the architectural beauty of the Nation's Capital. To learn that the USDA also has a campus in Maryland that occupies 45 acres of land is, itself, concerning.

With all that office space currently available to the USDA in the Washington area and an additional $151 million to rent office space elsewhere, why does the USDA want to rent more office space in D.C.? The people of this country will not begrudge an architecturally distinguished office for the Nation's Capital, but a luxurious high-rent office in addition is too much.

The Acting CHAIR. The time of the gentleman has expired.

Mr. KINGSTON. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the last word.

The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman from Georgia is recognized for 5 minutes.

Mr. KINGSTON. I want to say to the gentleman from Arizona, if I have time left over, I will yield you some. But you can also get your own 5 minutes if you want.

Mr. Chairman, I oppose this.

I want to start out by saying that the committee has taken a really close look at this over the years. And I wish you could see, from where you are sitting, better the saturation level of broadband access in the United States of America. That's in the blue. As you can see, the entire country is mostly blue according to this.

But I would not want your eyes to just strain from there, so I will give you some numbers here:

New Jersey, 100 percent penetration; Florida, 99.9 percent penetration; New York, 99.8 percent; Georgia, 99.4 percent; Arizona, 98.2 percent.

This program is not necessary. And in a time when we're talking about saving money, we do not need to increase this account. The process is burdensome. We get lots of complaints from people who have had applications pending for a long time and they can't get their questions answered, or they get approved but they can't get their money. Their eligibility is too broad. And in many areas, it competes with private sector broadband service.

Now, the IG report had a number of things that they found. They found that this rural broadband program granted loans of $103 million to 64 communities near large cities, including $45 million loans to 19 suburban subdivisions within a few miles of Houston, Texas. That's hardly the intent of the program.

The IG report also found out that they were competing with preexisting broadband access in many places and found that 159 of the 240 communities associated with the loans--that's 66 percent--already had service. I will repeat that. Sixty-six percent of the communities who got grants already had service.

Now, there was a little criticism, and the program was supposed to be reformed. But the IG took another look at it and found that, in 2009, only eight out of the 14 recommendations had had action taken on them. Thirty-four of 37 applications for providers were in areas where there were already private operators offering service, 34 out of 37.

So when our committee took a look at this, we felt like the program needed changing. It did not need new money. So I must respectfully disagree with my good friends who are offering this and stand in opposition of the amendment.

With that, I yield to my friend from Arizona.

Mr. GOSAR. Well, I would like to disagree. And that is, as I serve a vast part of Arizona, 60 percent of Arizona, in which I serve a large number of Native American tribes which are fighting to try to get economic development and trying to get broadband service, this is exactly the kind of funding that we want to direct you to the appropriate place.

The Native Americans are exactly the place that this could go. This is the economic development that they need, and they're currently in the process of trying to get that. They're trying to build that infrastructure, and this is exactly where that fund can be.

Mr. KINGSTON. I now yield to the gentleman from New York (Mr. Gibson).

Mr. GIBSON. I thank the chairman for yielding.

I just want to reiterate that there is significant need for expanding access to rural broadband in America. We've got over 50 districts that have at least 10 percent of their population that are not in the 21st century, that don't have access to the high-speed broadband.

I want to remind my colleagues, this loan program reduces outlays by $2 million in 2012, according to the CBO. This program should not be zeroed out. It should not go from $22 million to zero. We should accept this amendment.

I urge my colleagues to accept this amendment so that we can continue to make progress with rural broadband.

Mr. KINGSTON. I yield back the balance of my time.

Mrs. LUMMIS. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of words.

The Acting CHAIR. The gentlewoman from Wyoming is recognized for 5 minutes.

Mrs. LUMMIS. Respectfully, my chairman and I disagree on this issue.

I raised this in our subcommittee of Appropriations, and his superior abilities to convince the subcommittee prevailed. But I weigh in on the side of Mr. Gibson and Mr. Gosar, and let me tell you why.

The information that the committee chairman has is correct insofar as it gives you numbers on broadband access that will allow you a speed of receiving service that is so slow that it is basically 20th century rather than 21st century communications. For example, under the speed at which the numbers that the gentleman from Georgia has derived cover, this 99, 98 percent coverage, it would take you 9 hours to download a movie. Now, who's going to do that?

But with this digital world we're in, the kinds of data that need to be unloaded in order to be a lone eagle, to have a business, to have the type of broadband access that my colleague from Arizona would like the Native Americans in his State to have, would require a much faster broadband service. And when you look at the speed of the broadband service that is consistent with having a robust community that has real broadband service, my State is at the rock bottom. Less than half of the people in my State have the kind of robust service that is typical of urban areas or suburban areas.

The same could be said for my colleague from Arizona and the areas of his State where Native Americans so desperately need the opportunity to market products over the Internet. So I encourage my colleagues to support the position of my colleagues, Mr. Gibson and Mr. Gosar. And I rise in support of their amendment.

I yield to the gentlelady from Ohio.

Ms. KAPTUR. I just wanted to ask the gentlelady if she would find the present time convenient to enter into the discussion regarding GIPSA, though we are on this amendment at this point.

Mrs. LUMMIS. With the Chairman's leave, I would consent.

The Acting CHAIR. The gentlewoman is recognized.

Mrs. LUMMIS. Would you consent to a departure as I use the remainder of my 5 minutes to discuss the issue of the stockyards and the GIPSA rule?

The Acting CHAIR. The gentlewoman is recognized for the remaining time.

Mrs. LUMMIS. I yield to my colleague from Ohio.
Ms. KAPTUR. I thank the gentlewoman. And while I will not offer an amendment to strip section 721, a legislative provision that prevents the U.S. Department of Agriculture from doing its job as instructed in the farm bill, relative to fair competition in meat products so consumers get fairly priced meats, I otherwise rise in strong opposition to the language that's in the bill.

And when the authorizing committee wrote the farm bill, USDA was directed to use the existing packers and stockyards act to restore fairness to livestock and poultry contract markets. But instead of allowing the agency to do its job, Congress, in an uneven-handed way, has allowed itself to become captured by the consolidated meat industry.

And while ranchers, farmers and producers are increasingly being squeezed out of the markets, and small, local slaughterhouses continue to close, large consolidated players manipulate the rules to favor their own business operations, and meat prices rise. Congress simply can't stand by silent.

So on behalf of the millions of farmers, ranchers and producers that struggle every day to survive as they face the gargantuan task of competing against monopolistic entities, I oppose the base language in 721.

And I would like to place two statements in the Record, a letter from the American Farm Bureau opposing section 721 and a letter from over 140 organizations supporting the pro-competition proposals made by the Department of Agriculture.



Washington, DC, May 31, 2011.
Hon. Marcy Kaptur,
House of Representatives, House Office Building, Washington, DC.

DEAR CONGRESSWOMAN KAPTUR: On behalf of the six million families represented by the American Farm Bureau Federation, we write to support your amendment to allow the Agriculture Department (USDA) the opportunity to complete reviewing the 60,000 comments received and the proposed rule entitled ``Implementation of Regulations Required Under Title XI of the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008; Conduct in Violation of the Act.'' It is also imperative that USDA continue its economic analysis of the rule.

Farm Bureau is in the unique position of representing every species impacted by this rule. We also have no affiliation with major packers, integrators or processors, and therefore our only interest is the impact of this rule on farmers and ranchers. Because of this unique position, there are several provisions in this rule that we strongly support, while others give us pause.

Generally speaking, Farm Bureau's philosophy supports a market environment where our farmers and ranchers can sell their product in a way that best fits with their individual operation and risk aversion level. Our policy clearly states that ``We support efforts to ensure open markets to all producers.'' Over the years, our farmers and ranchers have recognized the need for a referee in the marketplace, and Farm Bureau policy supports the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) in that role. Some of our policy supporting the authority of GIPSA includes:

``We ..... oppose any attempt to lessen the ability of [GIPSA] to adequately enforce the act and its regulations.''

``We support more vigorous enforcement of U.S. antitrust laws in keeping with original intent; to include ..... [the] Packers and Stockyards Act of 1921.''

``The Packers and Stockyards Act should be amended to ..... strengthen the ability of GIPSA to stop predatory practices in the meat packing industry.''

We support ``establishing GIPSA as the overall authority and provider of oversight to ensure livestock contracts are clearly-written, confidentiality concerns are addressed, investments are protected .....'' as well as ``enhanced price transparency, [and] price discovery,'' and ensuring that ``contractors honor the terms of contracts.''

These overarching policy principles guide Farm Bureau's comments on this proposed rule.

It is also worth noting that Farm Bureau has consistently requested thorough economic analysis from agencies when promulgating new rules. Without such an analysis it is difficult for America's farmers and ranchers to assess the true impact of rules and to understand all of the implications of proposed rules. This rule is no exception.

We oppose language to preclude USDA from reviewing the comments and completing their economic analysis and are strongly opposed to any action that would stop work on that rule.


Bob Stallman,


House of Representatives,
Washington, DC, April 21, 2011.

ATTN: Agriculture & Appropriations Legislative Aides

DEAR REPRESENTATIVE: As a result of rapid consolidation and vertical integration, the livestock and poultry markets of this nation have reached a point where anti-competitive practices dominate, to the detriment of producers and consumers. Numerous economic studies in recent years have demonstrated the economic harm of current market structures and practices, and have called for greater enforcement of existing federal laws in order to restore competition to livestock and poultry markets.

Until recently, Congress and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have largely ignored these trends. Fortunately, Congress included language in the 2008 Farm Bill to require the U.S. Department of Agriculture to write regulations, using its existing Packers and Stockyards Act authorities, to begin to restore fairness and competition in livestock and poultry markets.

On June 22, 2010, the Grain Inspection Packers and Stockyards Agency (GIPSA) issued proposed rules to implement the 2008 Farm Bill mandates, and to address related anticompetitive practices in the livestock and poultry industries. These reforms are long overdue and begin to respond to the criticisms by farm groups, consumer groups, the Government Accountability Office and USDA's Inspector General about USDA's past lack of enforcement of the Packers and Stockyards Act. The proposed GIPSA rules define and clarify terms in the Act in order to make enforcement more effective, and to provide clarity to all players in livestock and poultry markets.

The Packers and Stockyards Act of 1921 makes it unlawful for packers, swine contractors, and live poultry dealers to engage in any ``unfair, unjustly discriminatory, or deceptive practice or device,'' or to ``make or give any undue or unreasonable preference or advantage to any particular person or locality in any respect, or subject any particular person or locality to any undue or unreasonable prejudice or disadvantage in any respect.'' The ambiguity of these terms has resulted in uncertainty in the marketplace and hindered enforcement of the Act.

Key provisions of the proposed GIPSA rules would:

Provide contract growers with commonsense protections when making expensive investments in facilities on their farms to meet the packer or poultry company requirements; provide growers, farmers, and ranchers with access to the information necessary to make wise business decisions regarding their operations; require transparency and eliminate deception in the way packers, swine contractor and poultry companies pay farmers; eliminate collusion between packers in auction markets; and provide clarity about the types of industry practices the agency will consider to be unfair, unjustly discriminatory, or when certain practices give unreasonable preference or advantage. These are all terms used in the existing statute, which have never been adequately defined.

Prohibit retaliation by packers, swine contractors or poultry companies against farmers for speaking about the problems within industry or joining with other farmers to voice their concerns and seek improvements. Currently, many farmers are often retaliated against economically for exercising these legal rights.

Allow premiums to be paid to livestock producers who produce a premium product, but requires the packer or swine contractors to keep records to detail why they provide certain pricing and contract terms to certain producers.

Reduce litigation in the industry by eliminating the ambiguity in interpretation of the terms of the Packers and Stockyards Act. Such ambiguity leads to litigation as farmers and packers seek court action to clarify the intent of the Act.

GIPSA has received approximately 60,000 comments on the proposed rule during the five-month public comment period that ended in November 22 of 2010. USDA is in the process of analyzing those comments, and providing the in-depth cost-benefit analysis necessary before issuing the final rule.

Because of the great importance of this rule to livestock and poultry producers and consumers, and the large volume of misinformation about the rule perpetuated by livestock and poultry trade associations and packer-producer groups, the undersigned organizations are writing to reiterate our strong support for the GIPSA rule and for its swift publication in final form.

We urge your support for the GIPSA rulemaking process, and its efforts to restore fairness and competition in our nation's livestock and poultry markets.

Agriculture and Land Based Training Association (CA); Alabama Contract Poultry Growers Association; Alliance for a Sustainable Future (PA); Alternative Energy Resources Organization (AERO)--MT; Ambler Environmental Advisory Council; American Agriculture Movement; American Corn Growers Association; American Federation of Government Employees (AFL-CIO), Local 3354, USDA-St. Louis (representing Rural Development and Farm Loan employees in Missouri, Oklahoma, and Kansas); American Grassfed Association; American Raw Milk Producers Pricing Association; Ashtabula-Lake-Geauga County Farmers Union; BioRegional Strategies; Buckeye Quality Beef Association

(Ohio); C.A.S.A. del Llano (TX) California Dairy Campaign; California Farmers Union; California Food & Justice Coalition; Campaign for Contract Agriculture Reform; Campaign for Family Farms and the Environment; Carolina Farm Stewardship Association; Cattle Producers of Louisiana; Cattle Producers of Washington; Center for Celebration of Creation; Center for Food Safety; Center for Rural Affairs; Chemung County Church Women United (NY); Chemung County Council of Churches (NY); Chemung County Council of Women (NY); Church Women United of Chemung County (NY); Church Women United of New York State; Citizens for Sanity.Com, Inc.; Citizens for Sludge-Free Land; Colorado Independent CattleGrowers Association; Community Alliance for Global Justice; Community Farm Alliance (Kentucky); Community Food Security Coalition; Contract Poultry Growers Association of the Virginias; Court St Joseph #139, Coming/Elmira, Catholic Daughters of the Americas, Corning, NY; Crawford Stewardship Project; Cumberland Counties for Peace & Justice; Dakota Resource Council; Dakota Rural Action; Davidson College Office of Sustainability; Ecological Farming Association; Endangered Habitats League; Family Farm Defenders; Farm Aid; Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance; Farmworker Association of Florida; Fay-Penn Economic Development Council; Federation of Southern Cooperatives; Food & Water Watch; Food Chain Workers Alliance; Food Democracy Now!; Food for Maine's Future; Gardenshare: Healthy Farms, Healthy Food, Everybody Eats;
Georgia Poultry Justice Alliance; Grassroots International; Heartland Center/Office of Peace and Justice for the Diocese of Gary, Indiana and the Integrity of Creation; Hispanic Organizations Leadership Alliance; Idaho Rural Council; Illinois Stewardship Alliance; Independent Beef Association of North Dakota (I-BAND); Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska; Independent Cattlemen of Wyoming; Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy; Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement; Iowa Farmers Union; Island Grown Initiative Izaak Walton League; Kansas Cattlemen's Association.
Kansas Farmers Union; Kansas Rural Center; Ladies of Charity of Chemung County (NY); Land Stewardship Project; Main Street Opportunity Lab; Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns; Michael Fields Agricultural Institute; Michigan Farmers Union; Michigan Land Trustees; Michigan Organic Food and Farm Alliance; Midwest Environmental Advocates; Midwest Organic Dairy Producers Association; Minnesota Farmers Union; Missionary Society of St. Columban; Mississippi Livestock Markets Association; Missouri Farmers Union; Missouri Rural Crisis Center; National Catholic Rural Life Conference; National Family Farm Coalition; National Farmers Organization; National Farmers Union; National Latino Farmers & Ranchers Trade Association; National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition; Nebraska Farmers Union; Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society; Nebraska Wildlife Federation; Network for Environmental & Economic Responsibility; New England Small Farm Institute; Nonviolent Economics; North Carolina Contract Poultry Growers Association; Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance; Northeast Organic Farming Association--NY; Northeast Organic Farming Association, Interstate Council; Northern Plains Resource Council; Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance; Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association; Ohio Environmental Stewardship Alliance; Ohio Farmers Union; Oregon Livestock Producers Association; Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility; Oregon Rural Action; Organic Consumers Association; Organic Farming Research Foundation; Organic Seed Alliance; Organization for Competitive Markets; Partnership for Earth Spirituality; Past Regents Club, Catholic Daughters of the Americas, Diocese of Rochester, NY; PCC Natural Markets; Pennsylvania Farmers Union; Pennypack Farm and Education Center (PA); Pesticide Action Network North America; Pomona Grange #1, Chemung County NY; Powder River Basin Resource Council (WY); R-CALF United Stockgrowers of America; Rocky Mountain Farmers Union; Rural Advancement Foundation International--USA (RAFI-USA); Rural Coalition; Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia; Slow Food USA; South Dakota Livestock Auction Markets Association; South Dakota Stockgrowers Association; St John the Baptist Fraternity of the Secular Franciscan Order, Elmira, NY; Sustain LA; Taos County Economic Development Corporation; Texas Farmers Union; The Cornucopia Institute; Tilth Producers of Washington; Trappe Landing Farm & Native Sanctuary; Veteran Grange #1118, Chemung County, NY; Virginia Association for Biological Farming; Western Organization of Resource Councils (WORC); WhyHunger; Women, Food and Agriculture Network.

The meatpackers have a stranglehold on this House, scaring Members with millions of dollars in campaign contributions and real threats of political retribution. Instead of engaging in well-meaning public debate and attempting to win on the merits of the argument, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, which has a right to speak out, but not a right to intimidate, sent out a national notice to its members to harass the American Farm Bureau. This is not the nature of well-meaning debate and, for many, has crossed the line of propriety.

I urge my colleagues to resist the misinformation and to stand strong for independent producers and family farmers and ranchers.

Section 721 of the base bill goes further than many realize. It will stop USDA from conducting its economic analysis of this industry.

The Acting CHAIR. The time of the gentlewoman has expired.

Mr. KING of Iowa. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of words.

The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman is recognized for 5 minutes.

Mr. KING of Iowa. I yield to the gentlelady from Ohio.

Ms. KAPTUR. I thank the gentleman so very much for that kind effort.

The current proposal will silence the nearly 60,000 comments on the rule because it will prevent USDA from reading the record. And, finally, it will undermine long overdue fairness in poultry and livestock contracts for millions of farmers, ranchers and producers.

By allowing section 721 to remain in the bill, the House is standing with the few big meatpackers and against the many thousands and thousands of producers.

To understand how illogical this committee's action is, I refer the House to the committee report where, on competition issues, the committee directed USDA to submit legal documents by June 10, 5 days ago, and before the House began consideration of this bill. On its face, the committee has directed the agency to comply with something before the House has even considered the bill. Is this proper?

Furthermore, I would note that, ironically, if section 721 were to be implemented, the agency would not be able to comply with its own report language. If there ever was a time that the Appropriations Committee has overstepped its bounds, this is it.

After the 2002 farm bill, this committee prevented USDA from implementing an important provision of law known as the Country of Origin labeling. It was the same consolidated meat packing industry crying from the rafters with claims of exaggerated economic costs which was behind the meat labeling COOL delay. We seem to have returned to the dark days, recycling the same talking points.

It took us almost 8 years and, finally, consumers now have the legal right to see where their meat comes from, which is what the vast majority of the American people wanted. So on behalf of the millions of farmers, ranchers and independent producers, I pledge to continue this fight and to prevent a similar 8 years of delay and confusion on USDA competition rules in the meat industry.

Let USDA do its job.

I thank the gentleman and the gentlewoman so much for their consideration.

Mr. KING of Iowa. Reclaiming my time, I thank the gentlelady for her attention to this matter, both gentleladies for their attention to this matter and for standing up with and for the best interests of agriculture.

Mr. FARR. Mr. Chair, I submit the following:

Statement of Administration Policy



The Administration has serious concerns about the content of H.R. 2112, making appropriations for Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies programs for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2012, and for other purposes. The Administration is committed to ensuring the Nation lives within its means and reducing the deficit so that the Nation can compete in the global economy and win the future. That is why the President put forth a comprehensive fiscal framework that reduces the deficit by $4 trillion, supports economic growth and long-term job creation, protects critical investments, and meets the commitments made to provide dignity and security to Americans no matter their circumstances.

While overall funding limits and subsequent allocations remain unclear pending the outcome of ongoing bipartisan, bicameral discussions between the Administration and congressional leadership on the Nation's long-term fiscal picture, the bill provides insufficient funding for a number of programs in a way that undermines core government functions and investments key to economic growth and job creation. Programs adversely affected by the bill include:

Food and Nutrition Service (FNS). The Administration strongly objects to the level of funding provided for nutrition programs that are critical to the health of nutritionally at-risk women, infants, children, and elderly adults. The proposed funding levels would lead to hundreds of thousands of participants being cut from the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) and the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, and reduce Federal support for food banks. These cuts would undermine efforts to prevent hunger and support sound nutrition for some of the most vulnerable members of our society.

Food Safety. The Administration is concerned with the funding provided in the bill for the Department of Agriculture's (USDA's) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) which will significantly hamper USDA's ability to inspect food processing plants and prevent food borne illnesses and disease such as E. coli and Salmonella from contaminating America's food supply. The Committee's recommendation may require the agency to furlough employees including frontline inspectors which make up over 80 percent of FSIS staff. By reducing FSIS inspections, food processing plants may be forced to reduce line speeds, which could lead to decreasing product output and profits, as well as plant closures.

Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI). The Administration is concerned that the bill does not support HFFI, which is a key initiative to combat childhood obesity. HFFI will expand USDA's activities to bring healthy foods to low-income Americans and increase the availability of affordable, healthy foods in underserved urban and rural communities by bringing grocery stores and other fresh food retailers to ``food desert'' communities where there is little or no access to healthy food.

Research. The bill provides insufficient funds for USDA research programs, which are needed to help solve food production, safety, quality, energy and environmental problems. By reducing funding for the Agricultural Research Service to its lowest level since 2004 as well as inadequately funding the Nation's competitive grant program, the bill will hinder the Department's ability to develop solutions to address current as well as impending critical national and international challenges.

Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The Administration is concerned that the funding level in the bill and resulting staff reductions will severely limit the FDA's ability to protect the public's health, assure the American consumer that food and medical products are safe, and improve Americans' access to safe and less costly generic drugs and biologics.

Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). The Administration strongly objects to the funding level for CFTC, as it would cause a cut in staffing levels and seriously undermine CFTC's ability to protect investors and consumers by effectively policing the futures and swaps marketplace through its current market oversight and enforcement functions. Moreover, the funding level would significantly curtail the timely, effective implementation of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, including new CFTC responsibilities to regulate the $300 trillion swaps derivatives market.

International Food Aid. The Administration opposes the level of funding provided for the Food for Peace Title II international food aid program as it would severely limit the United States' ability to provide food assistance in response to emergencies and disasters around the world. Given a statutory floor on non-emergency development food aid, a reduction would be borne entirely by the emergency component of the program, and would prevent distribution of emergency food aid to over 1.1 million beneficiaries.

In addition, the bill includes the following problematic policy and language issues:

Restrictions on Finalizing USDA Regulations. The Administration opposes the inclusion of section 721 of the bill, which effectively prevents USDA's Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration from finalizing a rule on conduct that would violate the Packers and Stockyards Act of 1921. The final rule has not yet been published and any concerns about the rule are better addressed through the standard rulemaking process than through an appropriations rider.

Restrictions on FDA Regulations and Guidance. The Administration strongly opposes section 740 of the bill, which would undermine or nullify FDA statutory standards that have been in place for decades and that are essential to protect the health of Americans. The provision would unduly limit the factors that FDA considers in determining the best ways to protect the public from unsafe foods; protect the safety of the blood supply from HIV, West Nile Virus, and other infections; ensure the safety of infant formula; protect patients from drugs and medical devices that have not been shown to be safe and effective; assure that food labeling and health claims on foods are accurate; and reduce youth use of tobacco products and otherwise reduce illness and death caused by tobacco use.

WTO Trade Dispute. The Administration is concerned by a provision in section 743 that would eliminate payments that are being made as part of the mutually agreed settlement of a World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute regarding U.S. domestic cotton supports and the export credit guarantee program. The framework serves as a basis to avoid trade-related countermeasures by Brazil that are authorized by the WTO until the enactment of successor legislation to the current Farm Bill. Under the agreement, the United States is committed to fund technical assistance and capacity-building support for Brazil's cotton sector. The bill's provision preempts the resolution process and would open the door to retaliation negatively affecting U.S. exports and interests.

The Administration strongly opposes inclusion of ideological and political provisions that are beyond the scope of funding legislation.

The Administration looks forward to working with the Congress as the fiscal year 2012 appropriations process moves forward to ensure the Administration can support enactment of the legislation.

Mr. KING of Iowa. I yield back the balance of my time.

The Acting CHAIR. The question is the amendment offered by the gentleman from New York (Mr. Gibson).

The question was taken; and the Acting Chair announced that the ayes appeared to have it.

Mr. KINGSTON. Mr. Chairman, I demand a recorded vote.

The Acting CHAIR. Pursuant to clause 6 of rule XVIII, further proceedings on the amendment offered by the gentleman from New York will be postponed.


Mr. BLUMENAUER. Mr. Chairman, I have an amendment at the desk.

The Acting CHAIR. The Clerk will designate the amendment.

The text of the amendment is as follows:

At the end of the bill (before the short title), insert the following new section:

Sec. __. None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to pay the salaries and expenses of personnel of the Department of Agriculture to provide benefits described in section 1001D(b)(1)(C) of the Food Security Act of 1985 (7 U.S.C. 1308-3a(b)(1)(C)) to a person or legal entity in excess of $125,000.

The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman from Oregon is recognized for 5 minutes.

Mr. BLUMENAUER. Mr. Chairman, these are challenging budgets and difficult economic times. But unfortunately, there really are alternatives to slashing environmental payments and nutritional support in the farm bill. There is an alternative to reform and modernize.

The last farm bill pretended to start limitations in payments. But exempted from the modest limitations in some areas were market loan payments, loan deficiency payments, and commodity certificates not capped. This means that entities can virtually receive unlimited title I dollars under the current law.

Mr. Chairman, it's important for us, as we are dealing with trying to reduce the strain on the Federal budget, to do so in a way that is strategic. The amendment I propose would establish a $125,000 payment limitation in total. Now, this will save two-thirds of a billion dollars.

Bear in mind that we are now cutting existing environmental contracts if this bill came forward. The majority of farmers and ranchers in this country still receive nothing, 62 percent receive nothing. In my State of Oregon, it's 87 percent of the farmers and ranchers. It's time to start with modest restrictions on government subsidies.

There are a wide range of areas in this budget. As it's working its way through the House, we're going to see very dramatic reductions, almost a third in transportation. We sliced $1 billion from sewer and water programs to State and local governments. At a time of record high farm commodity prices, this would be a time to place this modest limitation.

There's actually a question whether or not some of these payments even go to farmers at all. In 2009, some of the entities that received title I handouts--the Fidelity National Title Institute received over $4.85 million. Almost $3 million went to the Mercer County
Abstract Company. The American Marketing Peanut Association received largesse from the Federal Government worth over $3.98 million.

These aren't the small family farmers that I think all of us would like to support.

In this day and age, it's embarrassing to be giving away $4 million of taxpayer money in 1 year to a private, for-profit company when I think what we should be doing is concentrating on the support for America's farmers and ranchers. We have the opportunity, with this amendment, to take a step in this direction.

I would strongly urge that my colleagues join with me in adopting this amendment establishing a $125,000 overall limit, and be able to start saving two-thirds of $1 billion and send a signal that we're serious about reforming spending.

Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.

Mr. LUCAS. Mr. Chairman, I rise to strike the last word.

The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman from Oklahoma is recognized for 5 minutes.

Mr. LUCAS. Mr. Chairman, I rise in opposition to this amendment. This amendment would have far-reaching and devastating effects for America's farmers. I'm not sure the gentleman is aware of the full extent of this amendment.

This amendment throws the Noninsured Crop Disaster Program into an arbitrary payment limit scheme. This program, in which farmers pay a fee to obtain crop insurance coverage, protects them from catastrophic events like flooding and tornados. If this amendment passes, farmers who have been flooded out are quite literally up a creek without a paddle. They won't get the coverage they've signed up for even though they've paid in.

This amendment would also affect the permanent disaster program. Producers were required to purchase crop insurance to be eligible for that program. This amendment would be a bait and switch--they've fulfilled their end of the bargain, but we're pulling the rug out from under them now.

There's a time and a place to debate the appropriate level of support for farmers. I welcome that debate as a part of the 2012 farm bill process which will in effect begin next week. The Agriculture Committee will be auditing farm programs for effectiveness and efficiency, and then we will seek input from across the country on the best way to support our farmers and ranchers while making good use of taxpayer dollars.

Discussing farm programs in the context of a farm bill will represent honest, transparent policymaking. This amendment prevents that discussion from taking place by altering the terms of the contracts with farmers once they've already been signed. Protecting farmers during catastrophic weather events is the least we can do to maintain a stable food supply in our country.

My colleagues in the Midwest have seen firsthand the devastation that comes with flooding. My colleagues in the Southwest know how droughts can turn healthy farms into desolation. For that reason alone, I urge my colleagues to oppose this amendment. But I also urge you to oppose it because policy changes like this should be conducted within the broader context of all farm bill policy.

I urge my colleagues to vote ``no'' on this amendment.

I yield back the balance of my time.

Mr. PETERSON. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the last word.

The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman from Minnesota is recognized for 5 minutes.

Mr. PETERSON. Mr. Chairman, I oppose this amendment, and I want to associate myself with the remarks of Chairman Lucas.

In the 2008 farm bill, we spent a lot of time working through this payment limitation issue. There were a lot of different ideas and a lot of different discussions, and it was not easy. We made significant reforms in this payment limitation area, and as the chairman indicated, we came to a resolution and people are relying on that. We've got a 5-year farm bill. People make decisions not from year to year; they make them in the long term, and it's just not fair to come in and change things in the middle of the stream.

One of the other things we did is we applied the payment limitations to all of the programs, and as I understand this amendment, it only applies to the commodity title. So we're once again going to create a different set of payment limitations for one part of the farm program compared to another.

I don't know exactly what the purpose of this is because the farm programs are not designed to be a welfare program or to pick winners and losers and decide how big a farm is going to be and all that sort of stuff. The purpose of these farm programs is to support production agriculture so we can feed this country and, frankly, feed the world. You read all these stories coming from all over the world that we're worried that we're not going to have enough food to feed all of the increase in population and all that stuff. If you go down this track, you're going to go down a policy that's going to make it very difficult for us to feed the world.

So this is ideology run amok. Some people have problems with the way we've designed this safety net. And I think we could do a better job, but this is just the wrong thing to do. This is too complicated an issue to settle here on the floor in a few minutes of debate. And it's just not fair to the people that have made long-term decisions, have invested a lot of money based on expecting that this farm bill was going to be in this form until September 30, 2012. So I encourage my colleagues to oppose this amendment.

I yield back the balance of my time.

Mr. HIMES. I move to strike the last word.

The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman from Connecticut is recognized for 5 minutes.

Mr. HIMES. Mr. Chairman, I rise in support of the amendment offered by my colleague from Oregon.

And with all due respect to the ranking member, I think the effort to limit these subsidies is both fiscally responsible, more in keeping with the kind of market economics that so many of us in this Chamber believe are the right way to go, and will help the health of the American people, something that will have a dramatic impact on the rising health care costs in this country.

Mr. Chairman, the amendment would limit the total title I payments to farm entities to less than $125,000 a year. It doesn't eliminate them; it simply limits them. Under current law, market loan payments, loan deficiency payments, and commodity certificates are not capped, and entities can receive unlimited title I dollars.

Mr. Chairman, 4 hours ago in this Chamber, we debated amendments that would eliminate and gut the WIC program, WIC--women, infants and children. This is a program that seeks to provide basic food to poor children, to poor families.

There were amendments that would eliminate the Food for Peace program whereby we send food--in those bags that we've all seen, ``A gift from the people of the United States of America''--to people who are starving around this planet, a gift from the people of the United States of America at a moment when we can use friends. And we said we're going to gut them, we're going to reduce them. Why would you do that? You would only do that if you face the kind of budget constraints that we face today. A brutal necessity to find savings.

Here we have an opportunity to save nearly $1 billion in subsidies to large producers. These are not small farmers, as my colleague from Oregon said. The top 10 percent of subsidy recipients receive almost three-quarters of these funds. This is not the small farmer; these are big conglomerates.

These subsidies are bailouts. We hear a lot about bailouts in this Chamber. And nobody thinks bailouts are a good thing. These are slow-motion, year-in-and-year-out bailouts of an industry.

Many of my colleagues support both the goals of fiscal responsibility and the idea that markets are efficient. Here, not only are we taking taxpayer dollars and sending them to a slow motion, perpetual bailout, but we're doing it in such a way that it creates cheap corn sugars and other things that go into the fast-food that exacerbate the obesity problem in this country. This is a bad idea. And I urge my colleagues to support this amendment for both fiscal health and sheer market grounds.

I yield to my colleague from Oregon.

Mr. BLUMENAUER. I thank the gentleman, and I appreciate his kind words and thoughtful analysis.

The approach that we are taking here is to put an overall limit of $125,000 in addition to what we are talking about. This would have only affected about 6,500 entities in 2009. It is an appropriate step forward.

I hear some of my colleagues concerned about changing the rules for a few thousand people who are getting huge amounts of subsidy. You know, this bill will change the rules for tens of thousands of farmers and ranchers who would otherwise get environmental protections, payments for environmental programs. In fact, some of the existing contracts would be abrogated.

Now, there are going to be lots of changes going on. I hope that we start now beginning the process of agricultural reform and making clear that we want to start by putting some overall limitation during a time of record high farm prices. There is never a good time to do it. I think the time to do it is now.

I look forward to a spirited debate on farm bill reform. I hope at some point we are able to actually do some meaningful reform, as acknowledged by even the proponents from the committee. We have got lots of problems with the existing bill. We could do a better job. It is complicated.

Well, this isn't complicated. This is straightforward and direct, and I urge an ``aye'' vote in support of the amendment.

Mr. HIMES. I yield back the balance of my time.

Mr. CONAWAY. I move to strike the last word.

The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman from Texas is recognized for 5 minutes.

Mr. CONAWAY. Mr. Chairman, once again we have come to a point where I need to defend the work of the Ag Committee, the authorizing committee, the committee that knows the most about this process.

The $125,000 limit is picked out of whole cloth. It is made up. It is arbitrary. It is capricious. It has no clue what it might have as an impact on the farmers and ranchers in the district and parts that I represent. It is a drive-by shooting of farm policy that, frankly, makes no sense whatsoever if you are really going to seriously protect the production of agriculture in this country.

On the one hand, we hear our colleagues on the other side rant about imported foods, and they want to then turn around and make sure that the American farmer and producer does not have the safety net that we promised them in 2008. Now, I understand my colleagues don't like that safety net. They had ample opportunity when they were in the majority in 2008 to effect a farm bill when it came to this floor. If they didn't like the process, they needed to take that up with Speaker Pelosi and them.

The process going forward that I anticipate happening next year is that we will begin, as the chairman has said, to audit these farm bill programs over the next several months. We will then craft, with limited resources, a new farm bill that will be introduced in the committee, debated through subcommittees and at the full committee, and then we will bring it to the floor. It will be exposed to all of these arguments in an appropriate manner that should take place, not in the appropriations process.

I know my colleagues on the other side of the aisle did not vote for the budget we passed here in April. That budget clearly said the appropriations process in 2012 would not be used to effect a farm bill, that the farm bill would be written by the Agriculture Committee, the authorizing committee in 2012.

My colleagues' arguments are unpersuasive, and I do believe this is an ill-advised amendment to go at a safety net that, by every description, is complicated, is difficult to understand, but it has worked to protect production of agriculture from the risks that they take year in and year out to provide the safest, most abundant and cheapest food and fiber source of any developed country in the world.

I urge my colleagues to vote against the Blumenauer amendment. It is the wrong policy at the wrong time and the wrong place.

I yield back the balance of my time.

Mr. BISHOP of Georgia. I move to strike the last word.

The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman is recognized for 5 minutes.

Mr. BISHOP of Georgia. Again, I think that this is an amendment that is ill-conceived. I think it will do great harm, and I think it is not timely. I agree with the gentleman that the authorizing committee has great expertise. We have taken a lot of time to vet this program, and I think for us to come tonight willy-nilly and do it is very, very ill advised.

Nineteen years ago when I came to this body I was on the authorizing committee, on the Agriculture Committee, and the chairman of the committee at that time was a gentleman by the name of Kika de la Garza. Mr. de la Garza was fond of telling us one of his life experiences, and that was his submarine story.

He said that all of his life, from the time he was a little boy, even though he grew up in the rural areas in Texas on the farm, that he wanted to ride on a submarine. He always was just enamored with submarines. Finally, after he came to Congress and after he became the chairman of a committee, he had an opportunity to go out on one of our nuclear submarines. Of course, as the guest, he was allowed to take the wheel and to submerge the submarine, to get it up, to play with the periscope, and he was just really, really amazed at how impressive that nuclear submarine was. So he turned to the captain and he asked the captain, he said, Captain, how long can this nuclear submarine stay underwater without coming up? It is so fine, we have spent so much money and it is an excellent machine. The captain looked at him and said, Mr. Chairman, how long would you guess? And Mr. de la Garza said he thought for a while, and he said, Well, maybe a year? And the captain chuckled and said, Mr. Chairman, we can stay underwater for as long as we have food for the crew.

We in this country will be able to defend ourselves and we will be able to have a strong country as long as we have food, and right now we are headed to getting imported food for the majority of our people. If we continue with the route that we are going, if we impose these limitations, if we limit the ability of our farmers to compete on a level playing field with our global competitors, all of our food will be coming from Mexico and South America and China.

We cannot afford for that to happen. America cannot stay strong. Our people cannot be healthy. We cannot get safe food if we don't allow our farmers to have the capacity to earn a living and to produce the highest quality, the safest and most economical food and fiber anywhere in the industrialized world.

We have to defeat these amendments. We have to studiously and assiduously study the way to reform these programs and to get cost-effectiveness. But tonight in this bill is not the place to do it. The time to do it is when we take up the farm bill in 2012 with the authorizing committee and all others having the opportunity to take our time and to thoughtfully craft a new farm policy.

With that, I urge the defeat of this amendment.

I yield back the balance of my time.

Mr. KIND. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of words.

The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman from Wisconsin is recognized for 5 minutes.

Mr. KIND. Mr. Chairman, I do rise in support of my friend, my colleague from Oregon's amendment this evening.

I am not sure if a $125,000 payment limitation is the right amount, but this isn't a new concept. There has been a lot of discussion about payment limitations under title I, and the gentleman is correct. The time to start doing this is now.

We can pretend that there aren't major policy changes being made under this agricultural appropriations bill, but there are. There are deep cuts in the conservation title. We just had a large consortium, a coalition of outdoor sporting groups, write a letter expressing their concern about the deep cuts in the voluntary and incentive-based land and water conservation programs and the impact that is going to have on quality water and habitat protection or the ability of our farmers to be good stewards of their land. There is a huge demand for these programs which will be dramatically affected with the deep spending reductions that are contained in this appropriation bill.

The same goes for the nutrition programs. The huge funding reductions will have an impact on tens of thousands of families throughout the Nation, low-income children that rely on these programs, the Women, Infants, and Children program in particular, seniors on these nutrition programs. They are going to feel the effects of the decisions that we are making in this Agriculture appropriation bill.

Now, for so many of my colleagues to stand up this evening and claim we can't mess with title I program funding, we should wait for the next farm bill, I think, is disingenuous at best.

I ask my colleagues tonight, mohair subsidies? Is that the best we are going to be able to do? And I would submit to my colleagues that the reason why mohair was picked on is because they are not a particularly well-organized, sophisticated, politically-connected entity out there, so it was easy to go after them, as my colleague from Utah showed with his amendment.

But we have known for a long time now that these subsidy programs under title I do distort the marketplace. They do distort our trade policy, as my Brazil cotton subsidy amendment highlighted a little earlier this evening. And we are long past time to start making these revisions in light of the huge budget deficits that we are facing.

When 80 percent of the producers in our Nation get nothing under title I subsidies--not a dime--that leaves a very small group of entities that is receiving the bulk of these taxpayer subsidies, and we all know who they are. They're the big five grain-producing entities of this country--corn, soybeans, cotton, rice, and wheat. They're the ones who are receiving the bulk of these title I subsidy programs.

Under the farm bill, there are multiple programs which they can be eligible for: from the LDP Program, to Countercyclical, to the new ACRE Program under the last farm bill, to the Direct Payment Program. Many of us were arguing in the last farm bill whether it was necessary to go forward with direct payments that bear no relationship to current market prices--all based on past production history.

Today, we are facing world record commodity prices in these categories. Not only did we continue them, but we increased the direct payments, and we're allowing double entities on the same fund to qualify for the direct payments. Yet none of that is being discussed in the context of this Agriculture appropriations bill.

As to my original point, I'm not sure if 125 is the right level, but the concept isn't new, and it's definitely a step in the right direction. I think it's trying to bring more sanity to the title I subsidy programs, which we shouldn't be delaying until the next farm bill which may or may not happen next year. We know it's tough to get major pieces of legislation through during an election year, let alone a Presidential election year. It could be years from now before we have the next farm bill ready to go with any potential change.

So I commend my colleague for offering this amendment and for continuing the discussion, and I encourage my colleagues to seriously consider supporting it. I'm sure the Senate will have some ideas, too, on things that they recommend.

This, I think, is appropriate and it's not new; and to claim that we shouldn't touch title I, yet we're eviscerating virtually the rest of the farm bill in what we're doing with this appropriations bill, I think is disingenuous.

I would be happy to yield to my friend from Oregon.


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