June 19, 2012
I think Chairman Kingston and his Subcommittee did a great job with their $19.4 billion 302(b) allocation in this Agriculture Appropriations bill. They cut spending wherever possible – saving $365 million from last year and more than $1.7 billion from what the President would have liked to spend.
However, while this bill brings down discretionary spending – what we control as appropriators – mandatory spending continues on autopilot. While it’s important to help those in greatest need – children who rely on nutrition programs for their health, and the millions of Americans who depend on SNAP for example – there has to be a realization that this rapid spending can’t continue when our debts are so high. Something must be done across all areas of mandatory government spending before we automatically spend ourselves into catastrophe.
This bill is a good bill, and while the mandatory spending is out of this Committee’s control, the legislation makes strides to help direct these mandatory food and nutrition programs to find and eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse. This will help reduce excess spending caused by errors and scams, and ensure the better use of taxpayer dollars.
American farmers and ranchers are the backbone of nearly every rural community in the nation, and the discretionary portion of this bill supplies them with the resources they need to do their jobs safely and successfully. The bill also strengthens economic development in the rural parts of the country – providing business and industry loans, housing assistance, and infrastructure improvement. In addition, this bill supports food and drug safety, keeping our citizens healthy; and funds high-priority research to keep our agricultural system at the top of its game.
This bill also reduces spending in areas that are lower priority, or that simply do not need continued high levels of funding. This includes a cut to the CFTC, which has experienced more than 80 percent growth in its budget since 2008, while its workload has only increased by a fraction of a percent. We also made responsible cuts to the FDA and conservation programs, among other agencies. These reductions will help keep discretionary spending in line, while still supporting important programs at adequate levels.
I want to thank Chairman Kingston, Ranking Member Farr, and the entire Subcommittee for their thoughtful work on this bill, as well as the staff on both sides for their many hours and diligence putting together this legislation. You found a careful balance between fiscal restraint and acceptable spending that provides an abundant food and drug supply, promotes US interest in the global economy, and encourages economic development in our rural communities.
I urge my colleagues to support this bill, and report it to the House. Thank you.