WASHINGTON, DC—Congressman Randy Neugebauer (R-TX) gave the following statement at the 2013 House-Senate Farm Bill Conference Committee meeting today. Neugebauer emphasized that he is looking forward to finalizing long-term, market-based policies that save taxpayer dollars.
“Thank you, Chairman Lucas, for chairing this conference committee. I also want to thank you for the extensive preparation that you put into this Farm Bill. We began this process more than two years ago with title-by-title hearings. We closely examined each program to determine what was working, and what needed reform.
“That’s how good policy is developed—with fact-finding and discussion before decision-making begins. There have been some twists and turns as we’ve developed this legislation, but I’m proud to be part of a Committee that is committed to grounding our policy in reasoned analysis.
“I believe that your leadership throughout this process has helped us achieve a smart bill for producers and consumers. The House bill achieves significant savings—$60 billion over ten years—which makes a genuine contribution to reforming Washington’s out of control spending.
“I’m eager to finalize the Farm Bill and achieve these valuable savings.
“My priorities for this bill have been consistent throughout this process: We need long-term policy in place for our farmers and ranchers so they can make informed business decisions.
“We need market-based policies that are responsive to fluctuations in production and price without dictating what we produce.
“And we need efficient programs that make good use of precious taxpayer dollars.
“The divide between production programs and nutrition programs has been well documented over the past few months. But I think our goal for both issues is the same: to maintain a safety net that’s strong—to help people through tough times—and elastic, to help people spring back on to their feet.
“The House proposals on both the farm and nutrition programs balance strength and elasticity in our safety nets.
“In farm programs, we’ve moved away from direct payments and towards programs that are grounded in the market. We’ve strengthened public-private partnerships and shared-risk programs like crop insurance.
“I’m proud that my crop insurance proposals have been included in both the House and Senate legislation. A market-based shallow loss coverage program allows our producers to pool their risk and insure themselves against small losses that—over time—could put them out of businesses.
“This is an efficient use of taxpayer dollars because producers pay premiums for crop insurance but they only receive a payout in the event of a loss.
“We’ve also moved to a revenue insurance program for dairy producers—rather than attempting supply management. This is in line with the overall direction of farm policy in both the House and Senate bills towards more market-based support. So it’s important to me that it’s included in the final bill.
“Similarly, I’m hopeful that we can move away from other market-distorting programs. One of the key issues that this conference must address is country-of-origin labeling or COOL. A mandatory, government-run labeling program is not only trade-distorting, but it increases costs without demonstrating real benefits.
“I’m confident that we can address our differences and come together to finalize efficient, market-based programs to support our farmers and ranchers.
“Admittedly, we are farther apart in our goals for nutrition assistance. Why does this safety net need reform? Because it’s catching too many people. One in seven Americans are on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and costs are skyrocketing to more than $70 billion annually.
“That’s not sustainable.
“The House addresses this by ending benefits for individuals who don’t qualify for them. That allows us to save billions in taxpayer dollars without cutting assistance for families in need. This isn’t about weakening nutrition assistance—rather, it’s about making the program sustainable over the long-term.
“That’s a goal we can all agree on.
“I’m looking forward to working together on our shared goals and resolving our differences. I’m confident that we can finalize an efficient and effective Farm Bill that serves the best interests of producers, consumers, and taxpayers.”