Press Release | 113th Congress
Video: Ranking Member Peterson's Floor Speech
Video: Ranking Member Peterson's Closing Remarks
Floor Statement by Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Collin C. Peterson
H.R. 2642, The Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act
--As Prepared for Delivery--
“Thank you Mr. Speaker. I yield myself as much time as I may consume.
“I rise in opposition to this bill, for two reasons. First and foremost, I believe the strategy of splitting the farm bill is a mistake that jeopardizes the chances of it ever becoming law. And repealing permanent law all but ensures that we will never write a farm bill again.
“I’m not alone in my belief that this is a flawed strategy. Last week, a broad coalition of 532 agriculture, conservation, rural development, finance, forestry, energy and crop insurance groups expressed their opposition to splitting the farm bill and urged House Leaders to pass a five-year farm bill.
“When such a large group of organizations, most with different if not conflicting priorities, can come together and agree on something, we should listen to them. Doing the exact opposite of what everyone with a stake in this bill urges you to do does not make sense and is not the way to achieve success in my opinion.
“I don’t see a clear path forward from here. There has been no assurance from the Republican Leadership that passing this bill will allow us to begin to conference with the Senate in a timely manner. In fact, the Republican Leadership has told agricultural groups to support this bill as the way to go to conference, while also telling Republican Members, fearful of the wrath of conservative groups' opposition, that there will be no conference, at least not without first getting concessions from the Senate; concessions the Senate will never agree to.
“There’s a very real chance we could end up in a situation like we have with the federal budget, where the House Majority claim they want something but instead disregard regular order and demand preconditions before appointing conferees, leaving the bill hanging, with nothing getting done.
“Maybe the Chairman has received assurances from his Leadership that should this bill pass, they will let us move expeditiously to a conference with the Senate and begin negotiations. I have received no assurance this would be the case and, unfortunately, the Majority's past performance does not inspire much confidence.
“I have repeatedly said that if only we could be left alone, the Agriculture Committee could put together a good bill with good policy. Last month, Republican Leaders interfered by pushing into the farm bill poison pill amendments, amendments that the Chairman and I both said could bring the bill down. Even if the House passes this bill today, I fear Leadership's continued interference will doom any prospects of getting a bill to the President to sign.
“The other fatal flaw with this bill is the repeal of permanent law from 1938 and 1949 and replacing it by making the commodity title in this bill permanent. If you want to ensure Congress never considers another farm bill and the farm programs as written in this bill remain forever, then vote for this bill.
“In every farm bill, there are things some people like and things some people don't. The beauty of the '38 and '49 permanent laws is that it forces both groups to work together on a new farm bill, because no one really wants to go back to the old commodity programs.
“If you make the new farm safety net programs the new permanent law, then those who got a better result in the commodity title this time have no incentive to work on a new bill. It will make it more difficult to make changes, improvements or reforms that over time we discover are needed.
“For example, one reason I opposed the Goodlatte amendment to the Dairy Security Act was the knowledge that the amendment would likely result in large government payments to milk producers. I lost that argument on the House floor but if I am proven right, making this bill permanent law makes it just that much harder to correct. And for the specialty crop, conservation, rural development, energy, research and farm credit needs, they are not made permanent by this bill.
“I guess I should not be surprised. Given the do nothing nature of the House Leadership, it would make sense they would support making it easier to do nothing in the future.
“This is a flawed bill brought to us by a flawed process and should be rejected.
“Again, Mr. Speaker, I oppose this bill and urge my colleagues to vote no. I reserve the balance of my time.”