Ms. PINGREE of Maine. Mr. Chairman, I rise in opposition to this amendment and want to speak in favor of the Farmers Market Promotion Program.
I have a very different perspective. While I appreciate my colleague's opposition or concerns raised about the sequester, I do not think those same concerns apply to what is a very good program.
You know, when I moved to Maine about 40 years ago and started a small farm, growing and selling healthy food, locally grown food, was a little bit out of the mainstream. We had gone in a different direction. But I can tell you today, wherever I go, whether I'm talking to a group of bankers or a group of school teachers or a group of school kids or their parents, people nod in very strong support when I say we need to have more locally grown, sustainable food.
People want to know where their food comes from. They want to see farmers in their communities. They want to help those farmers make ends meet. This amendment would take us backwards. It would further undo our weakened infrastructure of local food support.
The Farmers Market Promotion Program--which is reformed in this bill to be the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program--helps communities support local food systems through direct marketing. There are not price guarantees, there isn't income support. This helps farmers understand the best practices for marketing their food. It helps them understand how to get the best price from the market for their product in this growing opportunity that truly supports rural communities.
It's not an either/or proposition. You don't have to have just locally grown food or nationally grown food. You can support re-growing our local food infrastructure, helping rural communities, and also support conventional agriculture. You can buy California lettuce [Page: H3903]
and also buy in-season tomatoes from the farmers who live down the road and support your community.
The truth is I come from a State like Maine, and Maine is like many other States around the country; we have very, very few farmers who will be able to take advantage of the biggest programs in this bill, the biggest programs that are worth billions of dollars--the Revenue Loss Program, the Price Loss Program, the Stacked Income Protection Plan. They don't apply to farmers in my State. They get very little support to help these growing opportunities in rural communities. That's okay with them.
They're not asking for a price guarantee; they're asking for some parity, for USDA programs to once and finally apply to them. They're not asking to be at a tremendous disadvantage because they are diversified and sustainable farmers, people who live and work in rural
communities, whose kids go to our schools, who serve on local boards, who are part of the rural fiber of our country. That's all this program is asking for, a little bit of parity, a little bit of assistance in this billion-dollar program for big corporate farms.
I cannot imagine how anyone could come to the floor and say, I don't want to help the fiber and fabric of rural States like mine, programs like Cultivating Community, which helped promote six local farm stands in low-income areas. This program helps people to support farm stands that accept SNAP benefits, that do a tremendous amount of things to get more people eating healthy, local food and promoting them. As I said, it's a critical part of our local infrastructure. I can't imagine why anyone
would go against that.
I'll pause there and reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. AUSTIN SCOTT of Georgia. Mr. Chairman, I rise in opposition to this amendment as well.
While we all share the desire to get rid of the fraud, waste and abuse, I think we've reached a delicate balance in the committee with the language that we've done here.
This is a competitive grant process. It will improve direct producer-to-consumer market opportunities. I think it's very valuable for our small farmers and our small communities.
Ms. PINGREE of Maine. I would just like to say one more time that this is a vital program.
Let me again reinforce the good words of my colleague and thank him for speaking on the other side of the aisle in support of this program. This helps communities through direct marketing. This helps roadside stands, farmers markets, CSA, agritourism, other direct producer-to-consumer marketing opportunities.
It's a competitive grant. It's not a boondoggle. It's not direct payments to a farmer. And once again, I just want to say, I come from the State of Maine, which like many States is full of rural communities, rural communities who are seeing this renewed interest in buying food locally--a great way to expand this economy, to provide jobs, to get more money into our rural economies, to make sure people are eating healthier food, getting to know their farmers in their communities, making better,
I strongly oppose this amendment, and I urge my colleagues to do so.
I yield back the balance of my time.
The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman from California has 2 1/4 minutes remaining.
Mr. McCLINTOCK. Mr. Chairman, I begin by asking the supporters to answer three simple questions:
Why should a taxpayer in one community pay to advertise produce for a farmer in another community? I heard no answer.
I asked why should a shopkeeper in one community who has to pay for his own advertising also pay for the local farmer's advertising as well. I heard no answer.
And third, I asked how can any of us look our constituents in the eye and tell them that $120,000, more than most of our constituents make in a year, is a worthwhile expenditure to hold a beer seminar in China. Once again, I heard no answer.
I forgive my Democratic colleagues the error of their ways. They never promised to be careful with the people's money. The Republicans made that promise. And because of that promise, the Republicans were entrusted with the majority of this House. Allowing programs like this to continue on our watch dishonors those promises, and I appeal to my Republican colleagues not to repeat the conduct that turned the Nation's stomach the last time we held the majority.
I yield back the balance of my time.
The Acting CHAIR. The question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman from California (Mr. McClintock).
The question was taken; and the Acting Chair announced that the noes appeared to have it.