Press Release | 112th Congress
Media Contact: Liz Friedlander, 202-225-1564
Opening Statement by Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Collin C. Peterson
To consider the Budget Views and Estimates Letter of the Committee on Agriculture for the agencies and programs under jurisdiction of the Committee for FY2013
--As Prepared for Delivery--
“Thank you Chairman Lucas. I believe the letter before us today illustrates the many challenges that lie ahead as we begin writing a new farm bill.
“As the letter states, the Chairman and I worked together to develop a proposal saving $23 billion as part of the Super Committee process. We were the only Congressional Committee that even attempted to do this. And, while it is unfortunate that the Super Committee ultimately failed, this proposal could now serve as the framework for writing the 2012 Farm Bill.
“A $23 billion cut is more than we would be required to do under sequestration. Personally, I’d much rather pass a baseline bill and take our chances under sequestration. However, I was willing to accept these cuts because the Chairman and I negotiated with our Senate counterparts and, if the Super Committee were to reach an agreement, agriculture would not face further reductions.
“We demonstrated that we can step up and be fiscally responsible while providing a safety net for America’s farmers and America’s hungry. Unfortunately, we will get no credit for this effort, and I fear that others will now step in and dictate how much we have to cut and tell us how to do it.
“Last year, the House passed a budget that suggested a $30 billion cut to commodity and crop insurance programs, a roughly $20 billion cut to conservation programs and a $127 billion cut to the SNAP program. You cannot pass a farm bill with cuts like those. The Administration’s recent budget also recommended $30 billion in cuts to commodity and crop insurance programs. Again, you cannot have an adequate farm safety net with those reductions.
“It’s really amazing to me that the strongest part of our nation’s economy – the agriculture sector – is repeatedly asked to bear a disproportionate share of cuts. While commodity prices have been high in recent years any farmer can tell you that will not always be the case and a strong safety net needs to be in place when prices fall.
“I think the Budget Views and Estimates letter makes clear that if the Agriculture Committee is left alone to do its work, we will work together to reduce the deficit in a responsible way while continuing to best represent our constituents. I support the letter and urge all members to vote for its adoption.
“Again, I thank the chair for holding today’s meeting and look forward to working together on the 2012 Farm Bill.”