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Public Statements

Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. SCHWEIKERT. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself as much time as I might consume.

Mr. Chairman, I'm sure this is true for all of us in the body, both on the right and the left. As we grind through the amendments and look at them, we, on occasion, come across an amendment that you can actually see where it was well meaning. It may have had a good heart behind it, but when you sort of dice it up, you start to actually understand both something from a personal basis almost borders on the humorous side but also structurally has some real problems.

I stand up today trying to remove some language, the Healthy Food Financing Initiative. Look, we will have some Members who will say it's only $125 million, but understand that $125 million may be used to buy a grocery store to subsidize certain healthy food products in areas where the program deems there is a shortage of such.

Where there is an amazing irony is, okay, we want healthy foods. There are some areas that the products that may be available in those areas we deem not to be particularly nutritious, but that may be because in our commodity subsidy system, what's in our grocery stores? The fact of the matter, processed foods, because we subsidize commodities. Then I go in and say, But my solution is I'm going to create another subsidy to take care of the problem on the other side. At some point, you've got to be willing to take a step back and see the irony of this.

But there are also other structural problems. We're basically taking taxpayer money, and through a sort of a network, you may find a private grocery store being financed by taxpayer money. You may be finding the system where certain foods and certain retailers are being financed by taxpayer money just because it's designated as an area where these products don't exist.

So with that, I reserve the balance of my time.


Mr. SCHWEIKERT. Mr. Chairman, to the gentlelady from Ohio, you hit a couple points that I absolutely agree on.

We have a horrible obesity epidemic. We have a crisis of nutrition of what people consume. If you really care about those things, then you would actually look at the farm bill overall and what we do in this country to distort what we consume. Walk down your grocery store aisles and you will see what we've done by more government policy.

But the fact of the matter is you, in many ways, make your own argument. If there is actually a program that you believe is working at all in Pennsylvania, then you've demonstrated the States are capable of doing this. But, once again, to take another $125 million of Federal money to create another program that ultimately actually does things like buys a grocery store, I mean actually competes with a private business, I see something that's almost absurd in that if that's the way that this amendment ultimately works.

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


Mr. SCHWEIKERT. I will try to be fast at this.

To the gentlewoman from Ohio, actually, I want to be careful in my language because I did say purchase grocery stores. It's basically finance their acquisitions through loans and other mechanics. It would be unfair to use the Solyndra type, but it is that mechanic of doing those loan mechanics and those things. And functionally, the taxpayers do have money out and risk in that fashion.

Look, for many of us here, we see an amendment like this, we see the well-meaning nature of it, but the underlying cause of much of this is the global policy we engage in--and we have for 60, 70 years.

We seem to be, if you look at all the amendments and really dig through this farm bill, I believe you will see layer after layer after layer where we're trying to fix sins that we created with our last attempt to fix a mistake.

I appreciate we have a crisis in parts of our country--whether it be access to healthy foods, whether it be obesity--but a $125 million program that creates special grants, special purchases, special loans, this isn't the way you get there to fix that.

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


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