Bipartisan Farm Bill is right for Arkansas

For the better part of the last year the House Agriculture Committee has worked in a bipartisan fashion to craft a fiscally responsible Farm Bill that will work for farm families across the country. This week, Democrats and Republicans on the Agriculture Committee joined together to pass the Farm Bill out of committee. At a time when many Americans have lost faith in the ability of Congress to accomplish great things, the House Agriculture Committee is an example of what can be done when partisan politics are put aside in favor of sound policy.

The House Agriculture Committee produced a Farm Bill that is reflective of our farmers’ risks – whatever those risks might be. Unfortunately, the Senate passed a bill that takes a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to agricultural production, and imposes a Midwestern insurance risk-management model on the entirety of U.S. agriculture. This is unfair to Arkansas producers and won’t work.

Contained in the House Farm Bill are price protections for Mid-South agriculture and fair policies for every region of the United States – not just a single region. Last week the Arkansas Rice Federation sent a letter to its members saying they support the House Farm Bill. Our district produces more rice than any other congressional district in the country and on the Agriculture Committee I worked to ensure our rice producers were fairly represented.

The House Farm Bill also includes numerous provisions that provide relief from some of the most onerous regulations hurting farm families in Arkansas and across the country. Included in the Farm Bill is language from H.R. 872, the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act. This common-sense piece of legislation streamlines the permitting process for pesticides by eliminating a multi-tiered regulatory scheme that burdens our farmers. The EPA already has a comprehensive regulatory program in place for pesticides. Unfortunately, a judicial decision has resulted in the EPA requiring additional permits under the Clean Air Act. This duplicative mandate has not shown to provide any quantifiable benefit to the environment. H.R. 872, the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act was crafted with input from the EPA and has received bipartisan support and will ease regulations for Farm Families in Arkansas.

To protect farm families and Arkansas’s rural economy, Congress must work to complete a 2012 Farm Bill before the current legislation expires. I am hopeful that the Farm Bill will move to the House floor for final passage. Passing a Farm Bill will ensure that American farm families can continue producing the safest, most reliable and abundant supply of food on the planet.

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