Press Release | 112th Congress
Watch Video of Peterson's Floor Speech
--As Prepared for Delivery--
“Thank you Mr. Speaker. I yield myself as much time as I may consume.
“Today is the last day of session before the August recess and once again the House will adjourn without finishing its work. No wonder no one likes Congress. Members will now have to explain to their constituents why the House did not even try to consider a new five-year farm bill. Frankly, we’re in this position because the House Leadership has refused to bring a five-year farm bill to the floor.
“Working in the bipartisan tradition of the House Agriculture Committee, Chairman Lucas and I crafted a new five-year farm bill, making many important and needed reforms. I appreciate the efforts of the Chairman in trying to enact long-term policy and know that if he had his way, we would have already passed a farm bill.
“The Chairman and I were ready to mark-up our bill at the end of June but the Republican Leadership stepped in and said they wanted to consider the agriculture appropriations bill first. So we held off to participate in the agriculture appropriations debate, which the Leadership ultimately didn’t even bring to the floor. This delayed the Committee’s mark-up by two weeks.
“The Committee completed our work on July 11, passing a new five-year farm bill on a 35-11 bipartisan vote. Rather than bringing this bill to the floor the House has instead focused on messaging bills that are going nowhere. Now, I understand that this is an election year and the Majority wants to promote their message; I’ve even voted for some of these bills. But you would think that after delaying us by two weeks the Leadership could have found two days on the House calendar to consider the Committee’s farm bill before the August recess.
“Instead of bringing up the five-year farm bill the Republican Leadership last week put forward a one-year farm bill extension, hoping to delay action until the next Congress with hopes to dismantle the farm and food safety nets. Fortunately, under intense opposition from those in agriculture, the Leadership had to pull the bill.
“This brings us to today’s consideration of H.R. 6233. This measure will provide some assistance to a few livestock producers affected by drought conditions across much of the country. Providing assistance to livestock producers – primarily cattle and sheep – is necessary and important, but this is not a comprehensive disaster package. Dairy and specialty crop producers will be left hurting and there is no assistance for pork and poultry producers.
“The Agriculture Committee’s farm bill not only includes the livestock provisions we’re considering today, it also strengthens the farm safety net for a wide range of commodities. A five-year farm bill will do a better job of providing certainty for American agriculture and assistance during this period of drought.
“Additionally, I have concerns about the conservation cuts that are used to pay for the assistance. I don’t think cutting conservation programs to offset the costs of disaster aid is the right approach. If there was more time maybe we could have worked together to find a better way to pay for this but the rush to put this bill together didn’t give us the necessary time to fully explore all our options. This is yet another reason that I think bringing up the five-year farm bill makes more sense.
“It’s just mystifying to me why House Leaders can’t take yes for an answer. We’ve done our work – the Senate has passed a farm bill, the House Agriculture Committee has passed a farm bill but Leadership does not want to bring up the bill.
“The farm economy is one part of the economy that’s actually doing well and has been solid through the past few difficult years. This is due, in part I believe, to the strong farm bill that we passed in 2008. Weathering a natural disaster without the certainty of a five-year farm bill could jeopardize one of our economic bright spots.
“With that said, I do recognize the effects the drought is having on our farmers and will vote in favor of H.R. 6233. However, this bill is a sad substitute for what is really needed – long-term farm policy. I will continue to urge my colleagues to bring up the Agriculture Committee’s five-year farm bill to ensure that all producers will have the necessary assistance during times of disaster.
“With that Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.”