Congressman Rick Crawford (AR-1), Chairman of the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock, Rural Development, and Credit and a conferee to the 2013 Farm Bill Conference Committee, delivered his opening remarks at today’s first meeting of the 2013 Farm Bill conference committee:
“I would like to thank Chairman Lucas, Ranking Member Peterson, Chairwoman Stabenow and Ranking Member Cochran for their outstanding work and dedication to making a Farm Bill a reality. But I don’t think there’s anyone more deserving of our thanks than the farmers and ranchers across rural America for their extraordinary patience as we’ve worked through this long, difficult process.
“As this conference committee begins the hard work of settling the differences between the House and Senate Farm Bills, it is critical to keep in mind the input we’ve received from our rural constituents. The House Agriculture Committee made this possible through holding hearings in nearly every region of the country, including my District, allowing producers to contribute by having their voices heard.
“This extensive outreach translated into a Farm Bill which fairly addresses the challenges producers face in the most diverse agriculture economy in the world. It is my prerogative that the final product of this conference committee reflects the principles set forth by the House Farm Bill. First and foremost, a one-size-fits-all approach will not work for the entirety of American agriculture. The bill must reflective of the farmer’s production risk – whatever that may be. In my view, a producer’s choice program is best-suited to achieve this goal in the commodity title.
“Our conservation efforts must achieve the right balance of meeting 21st century production needs, while aiming to preserve America’s vast wildlife and natural resources.
“Farm Bill policies must keep in mind that the modern agriculture economy has come a long way. Antiquated policies that squeeze supply and inflate consumer prices are not the right answer, and neither are policies that will disrupt our trade partnerships, such as Mandatory Country of Origin Labeling in the protein sector.
“We must also meaningfully address the problem of overreaching federal agencies that are imposing excessive regulatory costs, hurting competition, and violating the privacy of farmers and ranchers. For instance, the House-passed GIPSA amendment would stem proposals that would have fundamentally and negatively changed the way livestock and poultry are marketed in this country. Common-sense reforms to the EPA, such as relieving small-scale producers from fuel storage regulations, and protecting producer privacy are also among the examples of important steps the House took.
“Finally, it is critical to address the waste and abuse present in the Nutrition Title, preserving this important safety net for those who truly need it and ensuring its solvency for years to come. The American people demand responsible budgets that reduce the debt, and it is imperative that every taxpayer dollar spent be closely examined for its utility.
“The final product of the overall Farm Bill must be a bipartisan bill that saves taxpayers’ money and reforms outdated government programs. If we strike the right balance, the Farm Bill will be foundational to the success of rural communities, and American agriculture will continue to be the envy of the world.”