WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland, II joined his colleagues on the 2013 Farm Bill Conference Committee in offering their opening statements Wednesday on the agriculture and nutrition funding legislation. Southerland was one of 17 House Republicans, and the only member from Florida, tasked with negotiating a final House-Senate compromise on Farm Bill.
To view video of Southerland’s opening statement, please click here.
The text of Southerland’s opening statement is as follows:
“I’d like to thank Chairman Lucas, Ranking Member Peterson, Chairman Stabenow and Ranking Member Cochran, for convening this Conference Committee on the 2013 Farm Bill. I’d also like to convey my appreciation to each member sitting around this table for the hard work they have put in over the last several years.
“The agriculture industry forms the backbone of the 12 rural counties of Florida’s Second Congressional District, so your shared commitment to advancing sound agriculture policy is greatly appreciated by my people. In particular, Chairman Lucas, I want to thank you for your friendship and leadership in the House.
“I am honored to participate in this process, both as a former member of the House Agriculture Committee and as the only member on this Conference Committee from the state of Florida, the second largest specialty crop-producing state in America. This Farm Bill represents a critical step forward for our farmers, growers, and ranchers, and I look forward to doing all I can to help restore the certainty they deserve.
“The Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013 makes meaningful reforms to strengthen our rural communities. It provides greater risk management tools, sustains our working forests, includes market-based dairy polices, specialty crop tools and vital regulatory reforms – all while streamlining federal agriculture programs for hardworking rural families.
“I am also pleased that the House-approved bill includes two provisions I helped craft to sustain the economies of our rural communities. The bipartisan Building Rural Communities Act ensures that small, rural areas have access to the technical assistance and training necessary to enhance local infrastructure, all at no additional cost to America’s taxpayers. Another provision we fostered with subcommittee Chairman Thompson would ensure that wood products qualify under the USDA’s Biobased Marketing Program.
“Furthermore, the Nutrition Reform and Work Opportunity Act of 2013 makes common sense reforms to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, ensuring that truly vulnerable families receive the support they need in a more efficient and effective manner. By advancing the value and blessing of work for healthy, able-bodied adults, this legislation follows the proven, bipartisan path for success laid out by a Democratic president and Republican Congress during welfare reform in the 1990s.
“I look forward to working constructively with colleagues from both chambers and both sides of the aisle on a Farm Bill Conference Report that empowers our agricultural stakeholders and vulnerable families who need this bill. I appreciate the opportunity to be part of this important process and look forward to sustaining and strengthening agriculture production in America.
“Thank you, and I yield back.”