Promoting Policies to Help Our Farmers Succeed
Jul 20, 2012 -
Earlier this month, the House Agriculture Committee passed legislation, by a bipartisan vote, to reauthorize the Farm Bill for five years. While this bill is far from perfect, it includes a number of reforms that reduce federal spending while continuing key investments in programs that help our growers and processors deal with risks and continue to compete in the global marketplace.
There is no question that action must be taken now to eliminate the crippling debt that we are passing on to our children and grandchildren. This Committee-passed bill cuts more than $35 billion in federal spending and eliminates or consolidates more than 100 existing programs.
Eighty percent of this bill is dedicated to nutrition programs, and I am pleased that provisions were included to eliminate fraud and abuse, thus saving taxpayers an estimated $16 billion.
The bill also eliminates subsidies to growers of crops like wheat, cotton and soybeans and replaces subsidies with a safety net, so that help is provided only in years when they suffer heavy losses. This saves taxpayers nearly $14 billion.
Agriculture is the backbone of Central Washington’s economy and I have long supported efforts to promote federal policies that help – instead of hurt – our farmers’ ability to succeed. This bill continues important, targeted investments in programs that help our growers in Central Washington remain competitive in the global marketplace.
This legislation continues important investments in agricultural research, which is a shining example of growers, states, and the federal government pooling their resources to help growers stay ahead of pests. Specifically, the bill maintains the Specialty Crop Research Initiative, providing investment in research for crops like apples, cherries, potatoes and hops that do not receive federal subsidies.
The bill also renews funding for the Market Access Program (MAP), which helps growers open up new markets overseas. Those of us in Washington state understand that exporting our goods equals American jobs. Far too often, American farm products have difficulty getting into foreign countries, and MAP helps break down these barriers. A 2010 study found that for every federal dollar invested in MAP, we gain an additional $35 in agricultural exports, which has generated more than $6.1 billion in annual economic activity for rural communities throughout the country.
The current farm bill expires on September 30th and our growers need certainty so that they can plan for the future. I recently joined a bipartisan group of my colleagues in requesting that this bill be considered by the full House of Representatives soon so that Members have an opportunity to further improve it and find additional ways to save taxpayer dollars, while preserving key investments in Rural America’s future.