Congressman Scott Praises Passage of the Farm Bill Conference Report
WASHINGTON–U.S. Congressman Austin Scott (GA-08), member of the House Agriculture Committee and House Republican negotiator on the Farm Bill conference committee, today delivered the following remarks in favor of the Agricultural Act of 2014 – the Conference Report to accompany H.R. 2642, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013:
(Remarks as Prepared)
“I want to first say thank you to Chairman Lucas and Ranking Member Peterson.
“The Agriculture Committee has some of the most conservative members in the House and some of the most liberal members in the House, and we’ve got a lot of different opinions about what could and what should be done, but we’ve had respectful discussions across the aisles and across the philosophical debates.
“I’ve said many times from this podium that the foundation of our economy in this country is based on two things: one of them being manufacturing and the other one based on agriculture.
“This bill does the things that it needs to do to ensure the foundation for agricultural producers to help with that part of the economy. It also ensures that as those farmers go forward to provide the food, the nutrition, the fiber, not only for America, but for the rest of the world – so that Americans can go to the grocery store and get more for their dollar than any other country as they seek to feed their families.
“We found agreement to clean up waste and abuse within many of the systems, including the food stamp system. We’ve given more money to food banks, which I think that is extremely important in making sure that the most needy American citizens have a place to go and make sure that they can get the nutrition that they need.
“We’ve put some new policies in place and I’m confident that this bill is a move in the right direction. And where we’ve got those areas where we did not find the agreement, I’m confident that we’ll be able to come back and work on those. I’m proud to support this bill.”
More information, including the text of the legislation, can be found below or at this link.
Farm Policy Reforms
The Agricultural Act of 2014 includes the most significant reduction to farm policy spending in history by improving agricultural programs.
- Repeals Direct Payments and limits producers to risk management tools that offer protection when they suffer significant losses.
- Limits on payments are reduced, eligibility rules are tightened, and means tests are streamlined to make farm programs more accountable.
- Strengthens crop insurance, a successful public/private partnership that ensures farmers invest in their own risk management.
- Provides historic reforms to dairy policy by repealing outdated and ineffective dairy programs. Offers producers a new, voluntary, margin protection program without imposing government-mandated supply controls.
- Supports small businesses and beginning farmers and ranchers with training and access to capital.
Food Stamp Reforms
The Agricultural Act of 2014 makes the first reforms to the food stamp program since the welfare reforms of 1996 while maintaining critical food assistance to families in need.
- Closes the “heat-and-eat” loophole that artificially increases benefit levels when states provide nominal LIHEAP assistance.
- Establishes a 10-state pilot to empower states to engage able-bodied adults in mandatory work programs.
- Prohibits USDA from engaging in SNAP recruitment activities, and advertising SNAP on TV, radio, billboards and through foreign governments.
- Ensures illegal immigrants, lottery winners, traditional college students, and the deceased do not receive benefits.
- Ensures SNAP recipients are not receiving benefits in multiple states.
- Prevents abuses such as water dumping to exchange bottles for cash.
- Demands outcomes from existing employment and training programs.
- Prohibits states from manipulating SNAP benefit levels by eliminating medical marijuana as an allowable medical expense.
- Allows states to pursue retailer fraud through a pilot investigation program and crack down on trafficking through data mining, terminal ID, and other measures.
- Increases assistance for food banks.
Additional Reforms & Regulatory Relief
The Agricultural Act of 2014 includes multiple regulatory relief provisions benefitting agricultural and forestry industries.
- Consolidates 23 duplicative and overlapping conservation programs into 13.
- Provides one year of full funding for the Payment In Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program, which provides funding for vital services in communities containing federal lands.
- Provides certainty to the forest products industry by clarifying that forest roads and related silvicultural activities should not be treated as a point source under the Clean Water Act.
- Creates a permanent subcommittee within the EPA Science Advisory Board to conduct peer review of EPA actions that would negatively impact agriculture.
- Enhances coordination between USDA, EPA, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) regarding the conflict between laws governing pesticide use and the Endangered Species Act.
- Enhances coordination between USDA and the U.S. FWS regarding actions taken to manage the lesser prairie chicken.
- Eliminates duplicative reporting requirements for seed importers; requires improved economic analysis of FDA regulations.