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Public Statements

Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. WITTMAN. I thank the gentleman from New York for yielding.

Mr. Chairman, I have the privilege every evening to travel back to the northern neck of Virginia. It's just an hour and a half from D.C., and that area is not served by broadband. We all know how important it is to have that service. Folks there are stuck with 1990s' technology--dial-up. If you've ever had to deal with that, you know how frustrating that is. We know for rural areas that economic development, job creation and educational opportunities are all tied to broadband access. Granted, there may be challenges with the Rural Utilities Service program, but, nonetheless, those areas need that particular service. I want to make sure that they get that.

That's why I oppose this amendment, and I understand the gentleman's frustration with that. The RUS Broadband Loan Program does provide the needed leverage to fund construction. It also provides the ability to improve our systems in these areas and to acquire the facilities and equipment that are needed to provide broadband to these communities.

Folks, this is absolutely critical. This amendment, unfortunately, takes us away from that. I want to make sure that reforms are put in place so the system works, not taking away that opportunity for our rural areas.

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Mr. WITTMAN. I thank the gentleman for yielding.

Just as he said, this is an effort just to modernize the list of eligible products under the Specialty Crops Competitiveness Act. It is just about making sure that those folks in rural coastal areas have the same opportunities as those farmers on land. In those coastal areas, shellfish, molluscan shellfish, are extraordinarily important as a part of the economy.

Modern practices take the watermen from wild harvest now to farming shellfish products, just like on-land farmers do. What this does is it makes sure that those coastal economies have the same access to resources under this program as those farmers on land do. It really is just the situation of making sure that we have parity there.

This doesn't add a new checkoff program. It doesn't add new taxes. It purely puts in place access to those dollars competitively, just like those farmers that farm other crops on land.

Again, this is extraordinarily important to coastal communities in those areas where those watermen are now converting to being farmers on the water. So it really is, again, about making sure that we are fair in treating those farmers on the water the same as we do the farmers on the land.

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