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“…I will continue to work to ensure the viability of U.S. agriculture with the interests of producers and consumers living and working in our area in mind…”
The need for agriculture
The farming and ranching industry plays an important role in the 13th District producing over $5.8 billion in agricultural products each year. Our area is number one in Texas for cattle, hogs, wheat, and corn. We are also a leader in cotton, dairy, and forage. Agriculture is one of the major lifelines of our country, and our hard-working producers are an integral part in maintaining our nation’s food and fiber supply.
2013 Farm Bill
About every five years, Congress debates legislation governing our nation’s federal farm and food policy, known as the Farm Bill. The commodity programs in the 2008 Farm Bill represent less than one-quarter of one percent of the federal budget. The 2008 Farm Bill already made a number of significant changes to the 2002 Farm Bill that, as a result, are providing predictable commodity support while costing taxpayers less than originally anticipated.
On July 11, 2013, the House passed a new five year Farm Bill by a vote of 216 to 208. I voted for the bill. This measure makes major reforms in agriculture programs and reduces spending by $14 billion. When enacted, it will also give farmers, ranchers, and their lenders the certainty they need to plan for the future in the face of market volatility and difficult weather.
For the past 40 years, the Farm Bill included agricultural programs as well as nutrition programs, such as food stamps. The view has been that this combination was needed to get a bill passed as fewer and fewer Americans earn their living in agriculture. The House bill did not include any nutrition provisions, while the Senate version that was passed earlier did.
I believe that it is essential that we pass a Farm Bill. I also believe that we need to make commonsense reforms in the food stamp program, which has been growing to record levels of spending in recent years. The House should consider a bill to make those reforms soon.
There will be much to criticize about the provisions on both issues, but failing to pass legislation damages both agricultural producers and taxpayers as current spending, without change, will continue upward. We can improve both farm programs and nutrition programs, and I will continue working toward that goal.
For more information on the 2013 Farm Bill, please click here.
Keeping open markets for agricultural trade
According to estimates by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the United States provides the third-lowest amount of government policy-generated support to its agricultural sector among OECD countries.
The American people can and do reap tremendous benefits from trade, especially our agriculture industry. Texas alone is the fourth-largest exporter of agricultural commodities in the United States. Maintaining free and open markets is essential to allowing our producers to sell products across the globe.
However, I believe that we should also work towards leveling the playing field for our producers. The most important aspect of U.S. trade agreements is that we are placed on equal footing with other countries. We need to be active participants in the global economy, and I will continue to work to give our producers at home the best opportunity to compete.