Roby calls for reforms, common ground as farm bill conference committee convenes

Roby calls for reforms, common ground as farm bill conference committee convenes

As a bi-cameral panel charged with negotiating a final agreement on a new Farm Bill convenes today, U.S. Representative Martha Roby (R-AL) is calling for sensible reforms and expressing optimism that common ground can be found.
As a bi-cameral panel charged with negotiating a final agreement on a new Farm Bill convenes today, U.S. Representative Martha Roby (R-AL) is calling for sensible reforms and expressing optimism that common ground can be found.

The House and Senate passed different versions of the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act, commonly known as the Farm Bill, leading to a conference committee of lawmakers from both bodies to work out the differences. The Farm Bill Conference Committee holds its first meeting at 2:30 Eastern Time Wednesday in 1100 Longworth House Office Building. The meeting will be broadcast on C-SPAN and streamed online here.

Rep. Roby, who serves on the House Committee on Agriculture and has championed reforms to farm and food stamp policy, was selected to represent the House.

Below is the prepared text of Rep. Roby’s remarks to open the Farm Bill Conference Committee.

Opening Remarks As Prepared For Delivery
Rep. Martha Roby, R-AL
Farm Bill Conference Committee
October 30, 2013

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I am grateful for the opportunity to serve on this conference committee and to work toward a solution on this very important bill.

I also want to say thank you to the staff of the Agriculture Committee for all their hard work behind the scenes.

For three years we’ve been working on a new Farm Bill that would meet this country’s agricultural and economic needs, while enacting important reforms to farm and food stamp policy. I’m pleased that the process is moving forward today.

This Farm Bill is a top legislative priority for me because it is important to the people of Alabama’s Second Congressional District. I’ve hosted numerous town hall meetings, held regular sit downs with my own Agriculture Advisory Panel, and visited with farmers throughout my district.

I’m proud that my state of Alabama is home to multiple land-grant universities that play an important role in developing new farming techniques and technologies. In fact, just today I met with Auburn University President Jay Gouge and learned about their cutting edge research that is shaping the future of agriculture.

From Dothan to Deatsville and from Eclectic to Elba, Alabama farmers deserve a new Farm Bill that provides the certainty they need to plan their planting.

Alabamians also recognize that this bill needs to contain the kind of reforms that show Congress is serious about changing the culture of spending and government dependence.

Our country needs agricultural policy that makes sense.

We need regional equity that allows the same opportunity and protections for all types of commodities, not just those in certain areas.

We need an EPA that helps farmers comply with necessary regulations, not an aggressive, police-like agency bent on punishing those who are just trying to yield a crop.

It is time to end the practice of direct payments to farmers, and transition to an insurance system that allows for planting flexibility.

And it is time to consolidate duplicative programs administered by the USDA.

Our country also needs nutrition policy that makes sense. Food stamps have played and will continue to play an important role in taking care of our most needy Americans. But the program exists to help lift up those who have hit bottom, not to keep them there.

Like President Reagan said, the success of our welfare programs should be measured not by how many the government can enroll, but by how many families can get off assistance and become self-reliant.

Mr. Chairman, I know there are a number of differences between the House and Senate bills, but I am confident we can find common ground.

We have a unique opportunity in this conference committee to prove Congress has not lost its ability to solve problems and make life work for Americans.

By working together, we can be an example to the rest of Congress. Let’s show the nation that its elected leaders can deliver on behalf of the American people.

Thank you Mr. Chairman, I yield back.

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