Texas Congressmen weigh in on Secretary’s farm bill plan

Texas Congressmen Randy Neugebauer and Mike Conaway say Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johann’s farm bill recommendations, released Wednesday, fall short of meeting the needs of West Texas farmers.

“While I appreciate the Administration bringing ideas to the table, Congress will draft language and direct funding as it relates to farm policy and the 2007 Farm Bill,” Conaway said.

“I will seek input from agriculture producers and other affected parties regarding the Administration's proposals. I will also continue to keep in mind that I have heard producers consistently voice to me that they would like an extension of the current law.”

Neugebauer said the Secretary’s recommendations included some “interesting and promising proposals,” but expressed concern “with the net effect of these proposals for West Texas farmers and ranchers. I plan to take a closer look at how USDA's proposed loan rate changes, changes to payment limitations, and revenue-based counter-cyclical would affect the ability of farmers in the 19th District to compete and remain efficient. Many area producers tell me they are pleased with our current programs.

“We must craft an agriculture policy that supports America's farmers and ranchers as they work to provide the country with an abundant supply of food and fiber,” he said.

He said the supplemental insurance coverage option in Johann’s recommendations is similar to his crop insurance legislation. “I believe this proposal is a move in the right direction by offering greater protection from devastating losses.”

He said increases “in direct payments for cotton and other commodities could help level the playing field in the global marketplace. Another promising part of USDA's proposal focuses on renewable energy research and infrastructure, particularly with regard to ethanol produced from new biomass sources. Not only would this proposal benefit agricultural and rural regions, such as West Texas, but it would also enhance America's energy security.”

Conaway said he looks forward to working with Chairman Peterson, Ranking Member

Goodlatte and all other members on the House Agriculture Committee in reauthorizing the 2007 Farm Bill in the days to come.”

Both Conaway and Neugebauer serve on the House Committee on Agriculture.

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