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Mr. FARR. I thank the gentleman for yielding.
I want to thank my co-chair, the chair of the committee who we just heard from, Mr. Kingston. We get along very well, and it's wonderful to work with him.
But I'd also like to thank the chair of the committee, Mr. Rogers, and the ranking member, Mr. Dicks, for letting us do our work in a professional manner, a professional and intellectual manner, which I think is the way we want to have political compromise. You allowed us to do that work, and I think that this report is a good report, and that's why I'm asking my colleagues to support it.
I didn't vote for the original bill; but this conference report is much better, and that's why I urge its support. There are many good things about this bill, especially in comparison to the version that originally passed the House last summer.
I was very pleased that we were able to go to the Senate level for the Food and Drug Administration, which is an increase of about $334 million over the House bill because to increase the funding of FDA's important work on medical countermeasures, that is very important. Medical countermeasures is critical to America's ability to face down biological, radiological, and other similar widespread public health threats. Without it, we'd be vulnerable to germ warfare. That's why I advocate its robust funding.
I might add, this isn't just science fiction that we see in movies. This is real, and this program is really vital to our future security.
In the USDA, the Department of Agriculture, particularly in the domestic food programs, remember, this is the biggest program in America that deals with the War on Poverty. And it's very good what we've done in here. This prevents hunger, improves nutrition, and grows healthier people in this country.
This conference report actually provides $36 million more than the Senate level for the WIC, the Women, Infants and Children program. It increases $570 million over the House bill for low-weight babies and for those kinds of programs that will grow healthier babies, healthier people in this country.
Then there's the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which we used to call food stamps. Many people may not realize it, but the SNAP program serves 15 percent of our fellow Americans during these difficult times. Fifteen percent of Americans. Over 40 million Americans are now depending on food stamps. That number is up by 7 million people over the last year. Why? Because the economy's downturn has created a lot of hardship for families. That's why the funding level of the SNAP program is so very, very important and why I'm happy that the funding level is a lot more than it was in the original House bill. This is also good news for the working class and distressed families of the United States.
Then we have a program in the Commodities Supplemental Food Program, which is also the Temporary Emergency Food Assistance Program. We've also funded that at a higher level. This is good news because it helps particularly the elderly who have suffered a debilitating life event like a tornado or flood or disaster and they need access to food and nutrition outside of the regular system. I'm so glad we're able to beef up these domestic programs for food assistance.
Then we have the international programs that help our international allies who need food assistance in the Food for Peace program. There's the well-known McGovern-Dole program, which provides donations of agricultural commodities and financial technical assistance for feeding and nutrition projects in low-income countries, countries that suffer from the culture of poverty, which could lead to all kinds of distressed, and certainly even to where we have to send in troops to bail out these countries. So this is a good prevention.
The conference report gave a lot more than what was in the original House level. There's a lot of good in this conference report. But, frankly, I have to say that there's one part that I'm really disappointed with. Under the Dodd-Frank program, we tasked to construct regulations to protect consumers. The President asked for enough money to get the new review process up and running.
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Mr. FARR. Thank you very much for yielding.
And we didn't give it enough money to do that. And then in the last thing, we dropped some crazy part into this program, which I think has gotten a lot of negative attention this week and deserves it, and that is that we, without any discussion or going to the rule, it pre-determines that the new regulations on tomato paste and tomato puree and sodium can be part of the school nutrition program. They didn't consult with us. That's wrong, and that shouldn't be done.
But it's a good compromise bill. It's good. It means food for Americans; it means certainty for our farmers. It means help for the hungry around the world. I ask my colleagues to support it.
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