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Hunger and the Ryan Budget

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. FARR. Thank you very much, Madam Chair. I call you Chair because you were chair when I was on the committee, and I always respect your leadership in this field.

As was stated, I am ranking member of the House Appropriations Agriculture Subcommittee, and that is responsible for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration. The entire budgets of those administrations are bigger than the budget of all of California. It is a very important program, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture is responsible for food policy. Most of our food policy in the United States is about health care. It's about feeding people and assisting those who don't have adequate access to fresh fruits and vegetables through creation of farmers markets and things like that.

I'm here tonight because I'm deeply disturbed by the attention and sort of the media satisfaction that some are getting when they hear about the Ryan budget cut, squeeze, and trim; and I want to talk tonight a little bit not only to the families that receive the benefits but to the farmers who grow the food in this country.

The Ryan budget is one you ought to look at before you leap, because if you look at it in detail, you will find that it has a lot to do with knowing about the price of everything and the cost of everything, but very little about knowing the value of what these programs are all about.

Look, food in America is very important, and we wouldn't be having all these health care debates and issues if it weren't for the issues of health care. Health care begins with food. If you're going to grow healthy people, it has to do with what they eat, and we also know it has to do with the exercise that they participate in.

Of about a $100 billion budget, $65 billion of that is in food and nutrition. It's about feeding people. We feed a lot of people in the government. We certainly feed everybody in the military. We feed people in public institutions. We feed children in schools, and we also give families a choice of what they want to buy with the old food stamp program, now known as the SNAP program, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

In my district, one out of every five families is receiving this assistance. And what do they do with that? They can buy, because we produce so much fresh fruits and vegetables, a much healthier diet than they would have otherwise. Indeed, if we're going to prevent illness in America, we have to keep people healthy.

Who grows this food? Who produces this food? It's the farmers of America. They don't give it away. We buy it from them.

A huge percentage of the income to farmers in this country comes from the food they produce for our institutional feeding and for our health care programs. The Ryan budget devastates that. He cuts, squeezes, and trims the farmers in this country, the growers, the people that create the food security in America.

So look before you leap. This budget does a lot more harm than good.

And, frankly, the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program is a very good program. We even have spouses and children of military families that are receiving this because at some locations the pay isn't great enough to be able to give them all of the nutritional foods that they need.

So if we're going to grow a healthy America, we've got to keep this program, and we've got to avoid falling in love with the Ryan budget which will do everything but create a healthier, safer, sounder and more fiscally capable government. I urge the defeat of that budget and the support of the American farmers.


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