by David Ramsey
This farm bill means good jobs and economic security for families across Arkansas, and I’ve stood beside my Republican colleagues John Boozman, Rick Crawford, Steve Womack and Tim Griffin to get this bipartisan bill done for the people of our state.
In voting against the farm bill, Congressman Cotton once again sided with his special interest allies, the same Washington groups spending millions on his campaign that urged him to oppose the farm bill. It’s reckless and irresponsible for Congressman Cotton to put his own ambitions ahead of what's best for Arkansans, and the people of our state deserve better.
“Growing up on a farm in Yell County, I learned a simple lesson: you can’t spend more than you take in. That’s why I’ve worked hard to protect Arkansas taxpayers and that’s why I can’t support the food-stamp bill. This bill spends too much and leaves Arkansas farmers with too little. Arkansas farmers will receive barely 0.5% of its bloated $956 billion price tag—half of what they received in the 2008 bill. Also, it imposes unfair regulations on livestock producers, opening all Arkansas farmers to retaliatory tariffs. That’s one reason most livestock groups oppose the bill, as do countless Arkansas farmers I’ve heard from. And even a small dip in crop prices from the bill's historically high target prices could leave taxpayers on the hook for tens of billions of dollars.
“This bill can only be called a food-stamp bill when nearly 80% of its funding doesn’t support farmers. Food-stamp spending has grown by 86% under President Obama and enrollment is at a record high, while 70% of adults who receive food stamps have been on the program for more than 5 years. Yet this bill fails to make real reforms—lacking even common-sense work requirements that would provide job training to able-bodied adults receiving food stamps.
“Arkansas taxpayers cannot continue to foot the bill for President Obama’s failed policies and Arkansas farmers shouldn’t be held hostage to President Obama’s runaway food-stamp program. I will continue to fight for policies that support Arkansas farmers and protect Arkansas taxpayers.”
Boozman Urges Senate to Quickly Take-Up Farm Bill Conference Agreement
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) praised the House of Representatives for passing the Farm Bill and encouraged Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to quickly bring the agreement to the Senate floor for consideration.
Last August, Boozman—a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee—was appointed to serve on the conference committee tasked with resolving the differences between the Senate and House versions of the Farm Bill.
The agreement reached by House and Senate negotiators establishes a strong safety net for all agriculture producers; reforms the food stamp program; provides regulatory relief to farmers, ranchers and loggers–and does so while saving taxpayers $23 billion.
“No one is going to say this bill is perfect, but it is a good, fair bill that achieves real savings in mandatory spending, reduces and streamlines government programs and provides much-needed reform for the food stamp program,” Boozman said. “At the same time, this bill ensures the continued safety, affordability, and reliability of our food supply while protecting the most vulnerable members of our communities. So I was pleased that the House passed it today and will push for quick consideration in the Senate of this hard-fought agreement.”
The new Farm Bill replaces existing subsidy programs with revenue and price protection programs that are triggered only when farmers need assistance. As a result, Arkansas’s farmers and ranchers will continue to have access to the risk management tools they need to weather difficult times when the ability to thrive on their own in good times is compromised.
“Agriculture continues to be a major contributor to Arkansas’s economy, which makes this a much-needed jobs bill for our state. By providing certainty through a five year Farm Bill, Arkansas’s agriculture producers can plan for the future and make the decisions they need to in order to grow their businesses and hire more employees,” Boozman said.
The conference report also includes more than $8 billion in savings from the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly referred to as the food stamp program, and includes more reform to the nutrition title than has been produced in any previous version.
By closing loopholes like those that enable college students without dependents to enroll in SNAP, adding work requirements for SNAP beneficiaries without dependents, and requiring income verification for applicants, the agreement reduces fraud and waste in the food stamp program while ensuring those truly in need of assistance will have access to resources to not go hungry.
“Too often, Washington gauges success by the amount of money you spend on a program, and not the outcome of the program. By closing loopholes and improving the integrity of the food stamp program, we can focus on helping those who truly are in need,” Boozman said.
The conservation title of the Farm Bill is critical for enabling our farmers and ranchers to continue to be our best stewards of the environment, keep our air and water clean, and preserve critical habitat for wildlife. However, over the years we have learned that there is duplication and excess in our current conservation program framework. By working with conservation and environmental groups, the agriculture committees were able to reduce the number of conservation programs by more than half while continuing to meet all of our conservation needs over the next five years.
“This bill also gets the EPA off the backs of our loggers and forestry industry,” Boozman said. “By prohibiting the EPA from issuing any permanent regulations that declare forest roads as a point source for pollution, this bill clears mountains of bureaucratic red tape for public-private partnerships to responsibly use our resources and practice healthy forest management. This creates jobs and economic growth in Arkansas’s forest communities.”