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Public Statements

Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. CONAWAY. Madam Chairman, I want to thank Chairman Lucas as well as Ranking Member Peterson for the great work they've done in getting us to this point. It's been bipartisan, and it's been an honor to work with both these gentlemen.

This bill wasn't written overnight. This bill that we'll consider today or tomorrow or the next couple of days is the result of 4 years of debate, a 2-year audit of every single policy in the USDA, as well as 40 hearings and the second markup last month and now the floor debate. This landmark bill saves taxpayers billions over the next 10 years while making the greatest reforms in food policy since 1996.

There are many reasons why this balanced, equitable, and market-oriented farm bill is deserving of support. As we consider this legislation, I hope every Member of Congress will really think about how important it is to walk the walk rather than just talk the talk. This is a piece of legislation, not an opportunity for theatrics.

The difference between those who don't support this legislation and those who do is simple: the first group talks about cutting spending, talks about cutting the deficit, talks about making reforms, and talks about reducing the size of government, and the farm bill and its supporters actually do all of those things.

Failure to pass this farm bill means more of the same from Washington--$40 billion in additional government spending; 100 programs that we on the committee believe have outlived their usefulness will continue on; and we will continue the runaway, abusive spending programs within the SNAP programs without the reforms that we've put in place for this bill.

Opposing this bill is a vote for the status quo in Washington. A vote against this bill is a vote for the status quo in Washington.

I could go back to my district and tell my constituents that I voted against this bill because I'm a fiscal conservative, knowing full well that what I really did was leave Washington with the spending spigot fully turned on, and I'm not going to do that. I hope my fellow Members won't do it either.

This bill helps to provide food safety for our national security. A nation that produces its own food is more secure.

In addition to the work on the Ag Committee, I also serve on the Armed Services Committee and the House Intelligence Committee, and I see the dangers that our country faces every day. It is not in our Nation's best interest to depend on other countries for our food supply like we do for energy and other areas.

This bill is supported by hundreds of farm associations, agribusinesses, and farmers and ranchers across the country, including more than 80 in my home State of Texas.

I urge my colleagues to support this bill. Let's pass this and move on.

[Begin Insert]
While farmers and ranchers would rather not ask us for this farm bill, it's simple--they don't have a choice.

If they could buy insurance for their crops like you and I can on our home, they would do it in a heartbeat. But they cannot. Without federal crop insurance, farmers and ranchers would have no insurance on a crop that they will spend more money each year to produce than most Americans will spend in a lifetime.

If farmers and ranchers could freely market their crops around the world without foreign governments putting up barriers, high tariffs, and spending billions of dollars to subsidize their farmers and ranchers, they would gladly do it.

But while we are debating cutting farm policy to record low levels, foreign subsidies and tariffs are hitting record highs and just keep rising. There is nothing free market about selling out America's farmers and ranchers to the uncompetitive trade practices of foreign countries.

This farm bill represents a modest response to Mother Nature and foreign subsidies and tariffs. It represents just one-quarter of 1 percent of the total budget. If every committee in Congress and every facet of government contributed to deficit reduction as the Agriculture Committee has, we would have the deficit licked by now.

Great thinkers throughout history have drawn the connection between the people who produce our food and clothing and the good of a nation. We in Congress owe it to the American taxpayer to pass legislation that promotes the safest, most abundant and cheapest food and fiber supply in the world.

I urge my colleagues to pass this farm bill.

[End Insert]


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