Pelosi Floor Remarks in Opposition to GOP Farm Bill

Washington, D.C. – House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks on the Floor of the House of Representatives to voice her opposition to H.R. 2, the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 which leaves farmers, ranchers and hungry Americans behind. Below are the Leader’s remarks:

Leader Pelosi.  Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I thank the gentleman for yielding. I especially thank him for his exceptional leadership over the years to honor the historic collaboration that has always existed in our country between urban and rural America that is in all of our interests that our farm country succeeds, and it’s in all of our interests that the American people are not food insecure.

So, I thank you, Mr. Chairman, for your outstanding – Ranking Member [Collin Peterson] – for your outstanding leadership on behalf of America’s farmers and hungry families.

Mr. Speaker, this bill is just a mystery to me because we have tried so hard over the years to work in a bipartisan way to come together to write a Farm Bill that does honor that historic collaboration: urban, rural, meeting the nutritional needs of the American people, encouraging the economic growth in farm country. This legislation does not do that, and I have some questions as to why.

Some of the questions came to mind last week when I was on a farm in Iowa listening to hard-working men and women talk about their challenges with the Farm Bill: that it does not bolster or preserve the farm safety net, that the bill reduces investment in agriculture research, conservation and rural development, and that it cuts nutrition assistance that so many there, even in farm country, but in our country, rely on.

When I was in Iowa, as I said, last week, I had the privilege of meeting a wonderful woman named Julia Slocum. She works two jobs, she’s a third-generation farmer and part-time librarian. Over the years she’s relied on the lifeline of SNAP to put food on the table during difficult times. A farmer relying on SNAP to put food on the table.

I challenge House Republicans to explain to Julia why they’re abandoning hard-working people like her, abandoning her twice, by gutting the farm safety net and by cutting SNAP. This bad bill steals food off the tables of children, seniors, students – 1.5 million of our veterans rely on the nutrition provision of this bill. 23,000 [families of active duty service members]. Imagine, it’s not just our veterans. That would be reason alone to be concerned, 1.5 million, but of 23,000 active duty service members, 23,000 of the families of active duty service members need to have food stamps because they are food insecure. And they are hurt by this legislation. Individuals with disabilities, working families, our seniors, students, children – children.

Democrats have always supported work initiatives for those that can work. Let’s be clear, this is not a jobs bill. SNAP returns money to farmers, to our economy, and to the Treasury, creating $1.79 for every dollar in benefits and supporting more than 560,000 jobs across the country, including 50,000 in agriculture.

Republicans are contending they’re investing in jobs. They’re not investing in jobs. They’re creating a bureaucracy and ignoring initiatives already in place to measure what really works in relating food to jobs. And they are wasting billions on new bureaucracies that will take decades to implement and that would increase hunger and poverty across the country.

It’s no wonder that so many faith-based groups across the country view this bill as one that does not reflect the values of America. Again and again, Republicans try to ransack the lifeline of working families to pay for handouts and to enrich the already wealthy.

This bill abandons America’s farmers where they are in a tough spot. The farm economy is struggling. As you know, commodity prices are – farm prices are plummeting. More and more families are in danger of losing the farm.

And that was before the Trump tariffs invited retaliation from China. Yet, Republicans are creating a self-inflicted crisis farming communities can’t afford and they can’t control.

I challenge House Republicans to explain to farmers and ranchers why they propose a bill that weakens the farmers’ safety net when we should be protecting family farmers, soybean, corn, wheat, pork, and special crop growers from self-inflicted challenge of Trump’s trade brinksmanship.

Explain why this bill slashes hundreds of millions from rural development initiatives, cuts small business loan guarantees, and adds new layers of bureaucracy to high-speed broadband grants when we should be investing in self-sufficiency for small towns.

Explain, my Republican colleagues, why this bill eliminates funding for on farm energy initiatives and biofuels when we should be embracing the farmers’ role in making America sustainable and energy independent.

Explain, my colleagues, why this bill creates new loopholes for millionaires, multimillionaires and billionaires to receive farm subsidies when we should be investing in the next generation of farmers and ranchers.

For the sake of our children, families, hard-working Americans, such as Julia, for our veterans, for our service men and women, for Americans with disabilities, we must return to the table and craft a balanced, robust, bipartisan farm bill, as we have done in the past and the distinguished chairman of the Ag Committee knows is possible.

We must return to the historic decades’ long bipartisan solution that weds our farmers and our hungry families together. Republicans must put aside politics and honor our responsibilities to 16 [million] men and women of agriculture and the nearly 41 million Americans who are food insecure.

That is why I urge a no on this dangerous bill and yield back the balance of my time.

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